Red ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer) is the most widely recognized medicinal herb due to its remedial effects in various disorders, such as cancers, diabetes, and heart problems. In this study, we investigated the anticancer effect of fermented red ginseng extract (f-RGE; provided by Jeonju Biomaterials Institute, Jeonju, South Korea) in a parallel comparison with the effect of nonfermented red ginseng extract (nf-RGE; control) on several cancer cell lines--MCF-7 breast cancer cells, HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells, and reprogrammed MCF-7 cells (mimicking cancer stem cells). Cells were cultured at various concentrations of RGE (from 0.5 up to 5 mg/mL) and their viabilities and proliferative properties were examined. Our data demonstrate the following: (1) nf-RGE inhibited cell viability at ≥1 mg/mL for MCF-7 cells and ≥2 mg/mL for HepG2 cells, (2) in the presence of a carcinogenic agent, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), nf-RGE treatment in combination with paclitaxel synergistically decreased MCF-7 as well as HepG2 cell viability, (3) f-RGE (which contained a greater level of Rg3 content) more effectively decreased the viability of MCF-7 and HepG2 cells compared to nf-RGE, and (4) f-RGE appeared more potent for inhibiting cancerous differentiation of reprogrammed MCF-7 cells in a synergistic fashion with paclitaxel, especially in the presence of TPA, compared to nf-RGE. These findings suggest that f-RGE treatment may be more effective for decreasing cancer cell survival by inducing apoptotic cell death and also presumably for preventing cancer stem cell differentiation compared to nf-RGE.
Keywords: Lactobacillus rhamnosus; anticancer; fermentation; ginsenoside Rg3(s); red ginseng extract.