Background: The reported health benefits of Korean red ginseng (KRG) include antioxidant, antitumor, antimutagenic, and immunomodulatory activities; however, the effects on oxidative stress have not yet been evaluated. Therefore, we assessed the effect of KRG on antioxidant enzymes and oxidative stress markers in humans.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with three groups, including placebo, low-dose (3 g/day), and high-dose (6 g/day), which were randomly assigned to healthy subjects aged 20-65 years. Lymphocyte DNA damage, antioxidative enzyme activity, and lipid peroxidation were assessed before and after the 8-week supplementation.
Results: Fifty-seven subjects completed the protocol. Plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity after the 8-week KRG supplementation was significantly higher in the low-and high-dose groups compared to baseline. Plasma glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and catalase activities were also increased after the high-dose supplementation. Furthermore, the DNA tail length and tail moment were significantly reduced after the supplementation (low-dose and high-dose), and plasma oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels were reduced in low-dose and high-dose groups, but increased in the placebo group. The net changes in oxidized LDL after the supplementation differed significantly between both KRG supplementation groups and the placebo group. Net changes in GPx, SOD and catalase activities, and DNA tail length and tail moment were significantly different between the high-dose group and the placebo group. Additionally, the net changes in urinary 8-epi-PGF(2α) were significantly different between the KRG supplementation groups and the placebo group.
Conclusions: KRG supplementation may attenuate lymphocyte DNA damage and LDL oxidation by upregulating antioxidant enzyme activity.