Purpose: Cisplatin, a chemotherapeutic agent, causes significant nausea and vomiting. It is postulated that cisplatin-induced oxidant stress may be responsible for these symptoms. We tested whether pretreatment with American ginseng berry extract (AGBE), an herb with potent antioxidant capacity, and one of its active antioxidant constituents, ginsenoside Re, could counter cisplatin-induced emesis using a rat pica model.
Methods: In rats, exposure to emetic stimuli such as cisplatin causes significant kaolin intake, a phenomenon called pica. We therefore measured cisplatin-induced kaolin intake as an indicator of the emetic response. Rats were pretreated with vehicle, AGBE (dose range 50-150 mg/kg, IP) or ginsenoside Re (2 and 5 mg/kg, IP). Rats were treated with cisplatin (3 mg/kg, IP) 30 min later. Kaolin intake, food intake, and body weight were measured every 24 h for 120 h. Additionally, the free radical scavenging activity of AGBE was measured in vitro using ESR spectroscopy.
Results: A significant dose-response relationship was observed between increasing doses of pretreatment with AGBE and reduction in cisplatin-induced pica. Kaolin intake was maximally attenuated by AGBE at a dose of 100 mg/kg. Food intake also improved significantly at this dose (P<0.05). Pretreatment with ginsenoside Re (5 mg/kg) also decreased kaolin intake (P<0.05). In vitro studies demonstrated a concentration-response relationship between AGBE and its ability to scavenge superoxide and hydroxyl radicals.
Conclusion: Pretreatment with AGBE and its major constituent, Re, attenuated cisplatin-induced pica, and demonstrated potential for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Significant recovery of food intake further strengthens the conclusion that AGBE may exert an antinausea/antiemetic effect.