Ginseng and aluminium hydroxide act synergistically as vaccine adjuvants

Vaccine. 2003 Mar 7;21(11-12):1149-57. doi: 10.1016/s0264-410x(02)00518-2.


The dry extract prepared from the Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer-root (total ginseng (T-ginseng)) contain ginsenosides (G-des) which were shown to have adjuvant properties as demonstrated by: (a) injecting guinea pigs with a mixture of T-ginseng and inactivated porcine parvovirus (PPV) as a conventional vaccine; (b)injecting PPV-antigen and T-ginseng simultaneously but separately at different sites on the animal and (c)injecting only the T-ginseng 1 or 2 weeks prior to immunisation with the PPV-antigen. Using a haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test in the antibody titration, it was found that the mean HI-titre for the animals injected with PPV-antigen only was 320 +/- 0. By comparison, the mean titre value was 2026 +/- 1206 for the sera from the animals injected with the same vaccine but adjuvanted with 4 mg of T-ginseng, while the antibody titre induced by a vaccine containing Al(OH)(3)-gel was 2986 +/- 1596. Interestingly, the T-ginseng and Al(OH)(3) acted synergistically and further improved the antibody response to the PPV-antigen to 6826 +/- 2413, i.e. more than 20 times the HI titre of the non-adjuvanted PPV-vaccine. Immunisations using PPV-vaccines adjuvanted with single purified G-des demonstrated that the ginseng fractions Rb1 and Rg1 are potent adjuvants inducing higher or similar antibody titres than the vaccine adjuvanted with Al(OH)(3), e.g. Rb1 tested at a concentration of 830 microg per dose induced a significantly (P = 0.009) higher antibody titre than the one adjuvanted with Al(OH)(3). Nevertheless, different than the mixture Al(OH)(3)-T-ginseng; Rb1 and Rg1 act antagonistically and partially inhibit each other. The G-des adjuvanted vaccines induced significantly (P = 0.0011) higher titres of IgG2 antibodies compared with IgG1.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / administration & dosage
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Drug Synergism
  • Ginsenosides / administration & dosage
  • Ginsenosides / immunology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hemolysis / drug effects
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Panax / immunology*
  • Parvovirus, Porcine / immunology*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / immunology*
  • Safety
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Swine
  • Vaccination
  • Viral Vaccines* / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Ginsenosides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Viral Vaccines
  • Aluminum Hydroxide