An acidic polysaccharide of Panax ginseng ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and induces regulatory T cells

Immunol Lett. 2011 Aug 30;138(2):169-78. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2011.04.005. Epub 2011 Apr 15.


An acidic polysaccharide of Panax ginseng (APG), so called ginsan, is a purified polysaccharide. APG has multiple immunomodulatory effects of stimulating natural killer (NK) and T cells and producing a variety of cytokines that proved to diminish the proinflammatory response, and protect from septic lethality. To determine APG's role in the autoimmune demyelinating disease, we tested whether APG can regulate inflammatory and encephalitogenic response in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of human multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of the APG which induces the suppression of an encephalitogenic response during EAE. APG significantly ameliorates the progression of EAE by inhibiting the proliferation of autoreactive T cells and the production of inflammatory cytokines such as IFN-γ, IL-1β and IL-17. More importantly, APG promotes the generation of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells (Tregs) through the activation of transcription factor, Foxp3. Furthermore, the depletion of CD25+ cells from APG-treated EAE mice abrogates the beneficial effects of EAE. The capacity of APG to induce clinically beneficial effects furthers our understanding of the basis for its therapeutic immunosuppression of EAE and, possibly, MS. Thus, our results suggest that APG may serve as an effective therapy for MS and other autoimmune diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental* / drug therapy
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental* / genetics
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental* / immunology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental* / pathology
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / genetics
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / immunology
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects
  • Transcriptional Activation / immunology


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxp3 protein, mouse
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interleukin-17
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polysaccharides
  • ginsan
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interferon-gamma