Anti-influenza effect of Cordyceps militaris through immunomodulation in a DBA/2 mouse model



The immune-modulatory as well as anti-influenza effects of Cordyceps extract were investigated using a DBA/2 mouse model. Three different concentrations of Cordyceps extract, red ginseng extract, or drinking water were orally administered to mice for seven days, and then the mice were intranasally infected with 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 virus. Body weight changes and survival rate were measured daily post-infection. Plasma IL-12, TNF-α, and the frequency of natural killer (NK) cells were measured on day 4 post-infection. The DBA/2 strain was highly susceptible to H1N1 virus infection. We also found that Cordyceps extract had an anti-influenza effect that was associated with stable body weight and reduced mortality. The anti-viral effect of Cordyceps extract on influenza infection was mediated presumably by increased IL-12 expression and greater number of NK cells. However, high TNF-α expression after infection of H1N1 virus in mice not receiving treatment with Cordyceps extract suggested a two-sided effect of the extract on host immune regulation.