Induction of chemoprotective phase 2 enzymes by ginseng and its components

Planta Med. 2009 Aug;75(10):1129-33. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1185508. Epub 2009 Mar 26.


Phase 2 detoxification enzymes protect against carcinogenesis and oxidative stress. Ginseng ( PANAX spp.) extracts and components were assayed for inducer activity of NQO1 (quinone reductase), a phase 2 enzyme, in Hepa1c1c7 cells. Ginseng extracts were analyzed for ginsenosides and panaxytriol. Korean red PANAX GINSENG extracts demonstrated the most potent phase 2 enzyme induction activity (76,900 U/g dried rhizome powder and 27,800 U/g for two similar preparations). The ginsenoside-enriched HT-1001 American ginseng ( PANAX QUINQUEFOLIUS) extract was the next most potent inducer, with activity of 15,900 U/g, followed by raw American ginseng root with activity of 8700 U/g. Neither a polysaccharide-enriched extract of American ginseng nor a commercial white PANAX GINSENG preparation showed any inducer activity. Pure ginsenosides showed no inducer activity. Protopanaxadiol and protopanaxatriol, deglycosylated ginsenoside metabolic derivatives, showed potent induction activity (approximately 500,000 U/g each). Synthetic panaxytriol was over 10-fold more potent (induction potency 5,760,000 U/g). There was no correlation between ginsenoside content and phase 2 enzyme induction. The most potent inducing red ginseng extract also had the highest panaxytriol content, 120.8 microg/g. We found that ginseng induced NQO1 and that polyacetylenes are the most active components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Humans
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / biosynthesis*
  • Panax* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Plant Extracts
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • NQO1 protein, human