The major cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection. In a mouse model of P. aeruginosa lung infection mimicking that in CF patients, the effects of ginseng treatment on cytokine responses and the correlation between the changes in cytokine production and the lung pathology were studied. Mice were challenged with alginate beads containing P. aeruginosa (10(9) CFU/ml). A saline extract of ginseng was injected subcutaneously at a dosage of 250 mg/kg of body weight/day for 7 days. Saline was used as a placebo control. One week after challenge, a significantly lower mortality was found in the ginseng treated group (P < 0.005). The lung cells from the ginseng treated group produced more interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) (P < 0.04) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) (P < 0.03) but less interleukin-4 (IL-4) (P < 0 .02) with a higher ratio of IFN-gamma/IL-4 (P < 0.004) after 6 and/or 24 h of incubation with specific and non-specific antigens as compared to the control group. The ginseng treated splenocytes produced more TNF-alpha (P < 0.03) and IFN-gamma (P0.05) than the control spleen cells. Furthermore, a significantly milder lung pathology (P < 0.025) and a faster bacterial clearance (P < 0.038) from the lungs were also found in the ginseng treated group compared to the control group. These results indicate a Th1-like immune response in the mice with P. aeruginosa lung infection after 7 days of ginseng treatment, which is an important mechanism accounting for ginseng's favorable action. We therefore believe that Th1 response might benefit the host with P. aeruginosa lung infection and ginseng treatment might be a promising alternative measure for the treatment of chronic P. aeruginosa lung infection in CF patients.
Copyright 2003 European Cystic Fibrosis Society