The Ascomycete Cordyceps militaris, an entomopathogenic fungus, is one of the most important traditional Chinese medicines. Studies related to its pharmacological properties suggest that this mushroom can exert interesting biological activities. Aqueous (CW and HW) and alkaline (K5) extracts containing polysaccharides were prepared from this mushroom, and a ß-D-glucan was purified. This polymer was analysed by GC-MS and NMR spectrometry, showing a linear chain composed of ß-D-Glcp (1¿3)-linked. The six main signals in the 13C-NMR spectrum were assigned by comparison to reported data. The aqueous (CW, HW) extracts stimulated the expression of IL-1ß, TNF-a, and COX-2 by THP-1 macrophages, while the alkaline (K5) extract did not show any effect. However, when the extracts were added to the cells in the presence of LPS, K5 showed the highest inhibition of the pro-inflammatory genes expression. This inhibitory effect was also observed for the purified ß-(1¿3)-D-glucan, that seems to be the most potent anti-inflammatory compound present in the polysaccharide extracts of C. militaris. In vivo, ß-(1¿3)-D-glucan also inhibited significantly the inflammatory phase of formalin-induced nociceptive response, and, in addition, it reduced the migration of total leukocytes but not the neutrophils induced by LPS. In conclusion, this study clearly demonstrates the anti-inflammatory effect of ß-(1¿3)-D-glucan.
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