Saponins regulate intestinal inflammation in colon cancer and IBD

Pharmacol Res. 2019 Jun:144:66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.04.010. Epub 2019 Apr 5.


The saponins are natural surface-active glycosides which are the principal components of many popular herbal medicinal plants such as ginseng, astragalus, and bupleurum. Recent studies have suggested that saponins can exert strong anti-inflammatory effects and induce immune homeostasis in many diseases. Intestinal-inflammation-related digestive diseases include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal ischemia-reperfusion injury, necrotizing enterocolitis and radiation proctitis, as well as intestinal inflammation caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The pathogenesis of these diseases is poorly understood, and the patients with these diseases suffer from mental stress and physical pain, while their families (and society) experience heavy economic losses. Results from animal experiments suggest that saponins can suppress intestinal inflammation, promote intestinal barrier repair, maintain the diversity of the intestinal flora, and decrease the incidence rate of colon-inflammation-related colon cancer. In this review, we discuss new findings regarding the effects of saponins on intestinal inflammation and digestive diseases with intestinal inflammation. In addition, we provide a summary of the underlying mechanism for saponins-induced treatment on intestinal-inflammation-related disease.

Keywords: Colon cancer; Digestive diseases; IBD; Intestinal inflammation; Saponins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colitis / drug therapy
  • Colitis / immunology
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Saponins / pharmacology*
  • Saponins / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Saponins