Metabolism of 20(S)- and 20(R)-ginsenoside Rg3 by human intestinal bacteria and its relation to in vitro biological activities

Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Jan;25(1):58-63. doi: 10.1248/bpb.25.58.


When ginsenoside Rg3 was anaerobically incubated with human fecal microflora, all specimens metabolized ginsenoside Rg3 to ginsenoside Rh2 and protopanaxadiol. The main metabolite was ginsenoside Rh2. 20(S)-ginsenoside Rg3 was quickly transformed to 20(S)-ginsenoside Rh2 or 20(S)-protopanaxadiol in an amount 19-fold that compared with the transformation of 20(R)-ginsenoside Rg3 to 20(R)-ginsenoside Rh2 or 20(R)-protopanaxadiol. Among the bacteria isolated from human fecal microflora, Bacteroides sp., Eubacterium sp., and Bifidobacterium sp. metabolized ginsenoside Rg3 to protopanaxadiol via ginsenoside Rh2. However, Fusobacterium sp. metabolized ginsenoside Rg3 to ginsenoside Rh2 alone. Among ginsenoside Rg3 and its metabolites, 20(S)-protopanaxadiol and 20(S)-ginsenoside Rh2 exhibited the most potent cytotoxicity against tumor cell lines, 20(S)- and 20(R)-protopanaxadiols potently inhibited the growth of Helicobacter pylori, and 20(S)-ginsenoside Rh2 inhibited H+/K+ ATPase of rat stomach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Ginsenosides*
  • H(+)-K(+)-Exchanging ATPase / metabolism
  • Helicobacter pylori / drug effects*
  • Helicobacter pylori / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Rats
  • Saponins / metabolism*
  • Saponins / pharmacology*
  • Stomach / drug effects
  • Stomach / enzymology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Urease / metabolism
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Ginsenosides
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Saponins
  • ginsenoside Rg3
  • beta-Glucosidase
  • Urease
  • H(+)-K(+)-Exchanging ATPase