Ginsenoside rb1 and rg3 attenuate glucocorticoid-induced neurotoxicity

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Aug;30(6):857-62. doi: 10.1007/s10571-010-9513-0. Epub 2010 Mar 25.


Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones, increased in response to stress, can cause neuronal loss. We tested the effect of GC hormone on cell viability of neural SHSY-5Y cells and protective effects of ginsenoside Rb1 and Rg3 on the action of GC. We treated SHSY-5Y cells with increasing concentrations of synthetic GC dexamethasone (DEX; 10, 25, 50, and 100 nM) for 24 and 48 h, and then determined cell viability by using MTT assay. We then treated SHSY-5Y cells with DEX (100 nM) with or without the ginsenosides to examine their preventive effects on the cytotoxicity. To explore the underlying molecular mechanisms, we measured mRNA expression of bax and bcl-2 by using reverse transcriptase real-time PCR. SHSY-5Y cells treated with DEX significantly reduced cell viability as compared with control cells. In the presence of Rb1 or Rg3, DEX-induced cytotoxicity was effectively blocked. DEX considerably increased pro-apoptotic bax mRNA expression as compared with control cells. However, Rb1 and Rg3 completely blocked DEX-mediated up-regulation of bax expression. DEX significantly increased neuronal death in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures of rat brain with enhanced generation of ROS, which was effectively inhibited by ginsenoside Rb1 and Rg3. This suggests a potential role of the ginsenosides to target GC action in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dexamethasone / toxicity*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Ginsenosides / pharmacology*
  • Glucocorticoids / toxicity*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / genetics
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Ginsenosides
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Neurotoxins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • ginsenoside Rg3
  • ginsenoside Rb1
  • Dexamethasone