Green synthesis of multifunctional silver and gold nanoparticles from the oriental herbal adaptogen: Siberian ginseng

Int J Nanomedicine. 2016 Jul 11;11:3131-43. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S108549. eCollection 2016.


Pharmacologically active stem of the oriental herbal adaptogen, Siberian ginseng, was employed for the ecofriendly synthesis of Siberian ginseng silver nanoparticles (Sg-AgNPs) and Siberian ginseng gold nanoparticles (Sg-AuNPs). First, for metabolic characterization of the sample, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis (indicated the presence of eleutherosides A and E), total phenol content, and total reducing sugar were analyzed. Second, the water extract of the sample mediated the biological synthesis of both Sg-AgNPs and Sg-AuNPs that were crystalline face-centered cubical structures with a Z-average hydrodynamic diameter of 126 and 189 nm, respectively. Moreover, Fourier transform infrared analysis indicated that proteins and aromatic hydrocarbons play a key role in the formation and stabilization of Sg-AgNPs, whereas phenolic compounds accounted for the synthesis and stability of Sg-AuNPs. 3-(4,5-Dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay determined that Sg-AgNPs conferred strong cytotoxicity against MCF7 (human breast cancer cell line) and was only slightly toxic to HaCaT (human keratinocyte cell line) at 10 µg⋅mL(-1). However, Sg-AuNPs did not display cytotoxic effects against both of the cell lines. The disc diffusion assay indicated a dose-dependent increase in the zone of inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 6538), Bacillus anthracis (NCTC 10340), Vibrio parahaemolyticus (ATCC 33844), and Escherichia coli (BL21) treated with Sg-AgNPs, whereas Sg-AuNPs did not show inhibitory activity. In addition, the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl assay demonstrated that both Sg-AgNPs and Sg-AuNPs possess strong antioxidant activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report unraveling the potential of Eleutherococcus senticosus for silver and gold nanoparticle synthesis along with its biological applications, which in turn would promote widespread usage of the endemic Siberian ginseng.

Keywords: Siberian ginseng; antibacterial activity; antioxidant efficacy; cytotoxicity; eleutheroside A; eleutheroside E; green synthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Biphenyl Compounds / chemistry
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Eleutherococcus / chemistry*
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Gold / pharmacology
  • Green Chemistry Technology / methods*
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Particle Size
  • Picrates / chemistry
  • Silver / chemistry*
  • Silver / pharmacology
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Picrates
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl