Improved inflammatory balance of human skeletal muscle during exercise after supplementations of the ginseng-based steroid Rg1

PLoS One. 2015 Jan 24;10(1):e0116387. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116387. eCollection 2015.


The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of ginseng-based steroid Rg1 on TNF-alpha and IL-10 gene expression in human skeletal muscle against exercise challenge, as well as on its ergogenic outcomes. Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trials were performed, separated by a 4-week washout. Healthy young men were randomized into two groups and received capsule containing either 5 mg of Rg1 or Placebo one night and one hour before exercise. Muscle biopsies were conducted at baseline, immediately and 3 h after a standardized 60-min cycle ergometer exercise. While treatment differences in glycogen depletion rate of biopsied quadriceps muscle during exercise did not reach statistical significance, Rg1 supplementations enhanced post-exercise glycogen replenishment and increased citrate synthase activity in the skeletal muscle 3 h after exercise, concurrent with improved meal tolerance during recovery (P<0.05). Rg1 suppressed the exercise-induced increases in thiobarbituric acids reactive substance (TBARS) and reversed the increased TNF-alpha and decreased IL-10 mRNA of quadriceps muscle against the exercise challenge. PGC-1 alpha and GLUT4 mRNAs of exercised muscle were not affected by Rg1. Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) was not changed by Rg1. However, cycling time to exhaustion at 80% VO2max increased significantly by ~20% (P<0.05).

Conclusion: Our result suggests that Rg1 is an ergogenic component of ginseng, which can minimize unwanted lipid peroxidation of exercised human skeletal muscle, and attenuate pro-inflammatory shift under exercise challenge.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise*
  • Ginsenosides / chemistry
  • Ginsenosides / isolation & purification
  • Ginsenosides / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / chemistry
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / isolation & purification
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology*
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Ginsenosides
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • IL10 protein, human
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TNF protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Glycogen

Grants and funding

This study was supported by National Science Council (101-2622-H-154-001-CC2), University of Taipei, and NuLiv Wellness, Taiwan. (URL:, (URL: (URL: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.