Submitted to: Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2007
Publication Date: 12/14/2007
Citation: Lee, J.H., Choi, S.H., Kwon, O.S., Shin, T.J., Lee, J.H., Lee, B.H., Yoon, I.S., Pyo, M.K., Rhim, H., Lim, Y.H., Shim, Y.H., Ahn, J.Y., Kim, H.C., Chitwood, D.J., Lee, S.M., Nah, S.Y. 2007. Effects of ginsenosides, the active ingredients of Panax ginseng, on development, growth, and life span of Caenorhabditis elegans. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 30(11):2126-2134. Interpretive Summary: Nematodes are microscopic worms that attack plant roots and annually cause ten billion dollars of crop losses in the United States. A major problem with reducing nematode-induced crop losses is that safe and effective control measures for nematodes are not always available. One approach being taken by ARS scientists to develop new control tools is to look at the differences between the hormonal systems of nematodes and those of their animal and plant hosts. In this way, the scientists will design new ways of disrupting the action of nematode hormones, many of which are chemicals known as steroids. In this paper, a team of Korean scientists interested in the medicinal properties of the herb ginseng and the steroids it contains describe work done with an ARS collaborator to determine the effects of ginseng steroids on a nonparasitic, bacterial-feeding nematode. The results indicated that the ginseng steroids promoted growth and reproduction in the nematode. The results are significant because they provide the first evidence that ginseng steroids have beneficial effects upon a nematode. This research will be used not only by scientists developing innovative strategies for managing plant-parasitic nematodes by interfering with their synthesis of steroid hormones, but also by other scientists interested in the use of medicinal herbs to enhance human health.
Technical Abstract: Ginsenosides, the active ingredients of Panax ginseng, are saponins derived from sterols. The free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a well-established model for biochemical and genetic studies in animals. Although cholesterol is an essential requirement for the growth and development of C. elegans, it cannot synthesize cholesterol or other sterols de novo. In the present study, we investigated the effects of ginseng total saponins (GTS) on the brood size, growth, development, worm size, and life span of C. elegans in cholesterol-deprived and -supplemented media. Cholesterol deprivation resulted in damage to growth, reproduction, and life span of worms throughout the F1 to F3 generations. GTS supplementation following cholesterol deprivation restored the growth, reproduction, and life span of worms to levels of the cholesterol-fed group. GTS co-supplementation to cholesterol-fed worms not only promoted worm reproduction but also resulted in larger worm size and more rapid growth than in the cholesterol-fed group. In a study to identify which ginsenosides are responsible for the life span extension effects of GTS, ginsenoside Rc supplementation prolonged the life span of worms grown in cholesterol-deprived and -fed media. These results indicate that ginsenosides could be utilized by C. elegans as a source of sterol and also might affect physiological mechanisms in this nematode.