Stimulation of pituitary-adrenocortical system by ginseng saponin

Endocrinol Jpn. 1979 Dec;26(6):661-5. doi: 10.1507/endocrj1954.26.661.


Effects of preparations of saponin mixture and isolated ginsenosides, extracted from the root of Panax ginseng, on plasma corticotropin (ACTH) and corticosterone concentrations in rats were determined by the radioimmunoassay and competitive protein binding method. When ginseng saponin mixture was administered to rats intraperitoneally, plasma ACTH and corticosterone increased significantly 30, 60 and 90 min after the treatment. The kinetic pattern of the increase in plasma ACTH was almost parallel to that in plasma corticosterone. Isolated ginsenoside, protopanaxadiol or protopanaxatriol glycoside, also increased plasma corticosterone. The ginseng-induced increase in plasma corticosterone was suppressed by pretreatment with dexamethasone. Thus the ginseng saponin was found to act on the hypothalamus and/or hypophysis primarily, and stimulated ACTH secretion which resulted in increased synthesis of corticosterone in the adrenal cortex.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Animals
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glycyrrhiza
  • Male
  • Panax*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Rats
  • Saponins / pharmacology*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins
  • Dexamethasone
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticosterone