The host immune enhancing agent Korean red ginseng oil successfully attenuates Brucella abortus infection in a murine model

J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Feb 23;198:5-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.12.026. Epub 2016 Dec 22.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Panax ginseng Meyer (Araliaceae), is one of the most valuable traditional Chinese medicines and is used for the treatment of various human diseases. In this study, we elucidated the protective mechanism of the essential oil from Korean red ginseng (RGO) against Brucella infection.

Materials and methods: The effects of RGO on Brucella abortus viability, NO production, uptake and intracellular growth in macrophages were investigated. Mice were intraperitoneally infected with B. abortus and orally treated with RGO for 14 days. The weights and bacterial numbers from each spleen were monitored, and the sera were evaluated for cytokine production.

Results: B. abortus viability was not affected, whereas NO production, internalization and intracellular replication were inhibited in RGO-treated macrophages. Bacterial adherence, F-actin polymerization and MAPK signaling protein phosphorylation (ERK1/2, JNK and p38α) were reduced and the co-localization of B. abortus-containing phagosomes with LAMP-1 was augmented in RGO-treated cells compared to untreated cells. RGO displayed protective effects against cell damage by inhibiting nitrite production during B. abortus infection in macrophages. Moreover, the spleen weight and bacterial burden were lower in the RGO-treated group than in the control group. The uninfected RGO-treated mice displayed increased TNF-α and IFN-γ production, whereas the B. abortus-infected RGO-treated mice showed reduced IL-10 production compared to the control.

Conclusion: RGO exhibits protective effects against B. abortus infection in vitro and in vivo, which emphasize the beneficial effects of RGO in the prevention and treatment of brucellosis.

Keywords: Brucella abortus; Cytokines; Korean red ginseng oil; Macrophages; Panax ginseng Meyer (Araliaceae).

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Brucella abortus*
  • Brucellosis / drug therapy*
  • Brucellosis / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Phytosterols / analysis
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Fatty Acids
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Oils
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Interferon-gamma