Induction of chemoprotective phase 2 enzymes by ginseng and its components

Lawrence S. Lee, Katherine K. Stephenson, Jed W. Fahey, Teresa L. Parsons, Paul S. Lietman, Adriana S. Andrade, Xiaoguang Lei, Heedong Yun, Gaik H. Soon, Ping Shen, Samuel Danishefsky, Charles Flexner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Phase 2 detoxification enzymes protect against carcinogenesis and oxidative stress. Ginseng (Panax spp.) extracts and components were assayed for inducer activity of NQO1 (quinone reductase), a phase 2 enzyme, in Hepa1c1c7 cells. Ginseng extracts were analyzed for ginsenosides and panaxytriol. Korean red Panax ginseng extracts demonstrated the most potent phase 2 enzyme induction activity (76900 U/g dried rhizome powder and 27800 U/g for two similar preparations). The ginsenoside-enriched HT-1001 American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) extract was the next most potent inducer, with activity of 15900 U/g, followed by raw American ginseng root with activity of 8700 U/g. Neither a polysaccharide-enriched extract of American ginseng nor a commercial white Panax ginseng preparation showed any inducer activity. Pure ginsenosides showed no inducer activity. Protopanaxadiol and protopanaxatriol, deglycosylated ginsenoside metabolic derivatives, showed potent induction activity (approximately 500000 U/g each). Synthetic panaxytriol was over 10-fold more potent (induction potency 5760000 U/g). There was no correlation between ginsenoside content and phase 2 enzyme induction. The most potent inducing red ginseng extract also had the highest panaxytriol content, 120.8 μg/g. We found that ginseng induced NQO1 and that polyacetylenes are the most active components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1133
Number of pages5
JournalPlanta Medica
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009


  • Anticarcinogenic agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Araliaceae family
  • NQO1
  • Panax spp
  • Panaxytriol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Organic Chemistry


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