A previous study demonstrated that ginseng crude saponins prevent obesity induced by a high-fat diet in rats. Ginseng crude saponins are known to contain a variety of bioactive saponins. The present study investigated and compared the antiobesity activity of protopanaxadiol (PD) and protopanaxatriol (PT) type saponins, major active compounds isolated from crude saponins. Male 4-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats were fed with normal diet (N) or high-fat diet (HF). After 5 weeks, the HF diet group was subdivided into the control HF diet, HF diet-PD and HF diet-PT group (50 mg/kg/day, 3 weeks, i.p.). Treatment with PD and PT in the HF diet group reduced the body weight, total food intake, fat contents, serum total cholesterol and leptin to levels equal to or below the N diet group. The hypothalamic expression of orexigenic neuropeptide Y was significantly decreased with PD or PT treatment, whereas that of anorexigenic cholecystokinin was increased, compared with the control HF diet group. In addition, PD type saponins had more potent antiobesity properties than PT saponins, indicating that PD-type saponins are the major components contributing to the antiobesity activities of ginseng crude saponins. The results suggest that the antiobesity activity of PD and PT type saponins may result from inhibiting energy gain, normalizing hypothalamic neuropeptides and serum biochemicals related to the control of obesity.
Copyright 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.