Stereospecificity of ginsenoside Rg3 in promotion of the immune response to ovalbumin in mice

Int Immunol. 2012 Jul;24(7):465-71. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxs043. Epub 2012 Mar 16.


Our previous investigation demonstrated that ginsenoside Rg3 was active in promotion of the immune response. In this study, two epimers, 20(R)-Rg3 and 20(S)-Rg3, were compared for their adjuvant effects on the immune response against ovalbumin (OVA). BALB/c mice were immunized subcutaneously with 10 μg of OVA alone or with 10 μg of OVA mixed in 20(R)-Rg3 (50 μg) or 20(S)-Rg3 (50 μg) on days 1 and 15. Two weeks after the last immunization, blood was sampled to test IgG and the IgG subclasses as well as IFN-γ and IL-5; splenocytes were prepared to measure proliferative responses to stimulations with Con A, LPS and OVA and mRNA expressions of cytokines and transcription factors by reverse transcription-PCR. Results indicated that both 20(R)-Rg3 and 20(S)-Rg3 exhibited the adjuvant effect on OVA-induced immune responses. 20(R)-Rg3 promoted significantly higher serum-specific IgG and the IgG isotype responses in association with highly up-regulated serum IFN-γ and IL-5 than 20(S)-Rg3. In addition, 20(R)-Rg3 significantly enhanced splenocyte proliferative responses to Con A, LPS and OVA as well as mRNA expression of IFN-γ, IL-12, IL-4 and IL-10 and transcription factors T-bet and GATA-3 by splenocytes when compared with the 20(S)-Rg3. Therefore, ginsenoside Rg3 is stereospecific in stimulation of the immune response, and 20(R)-Rg3 has more potent adjuvant activity than 20(S)-Rg3.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Ginsenosides / administration & dosage*
  • Ginsenosides / chemistry
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Cellular / genetics
  • Immunity, Humoral / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Humoral / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Stereoisomerism
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Cytokines
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor
  • Ginsenosides
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • T-box transcription factor TBX21
  • ginsenoside Rg3
  • Ovalbumin