Ginsenoside Rg1 supplementation clears senescence-associated β-galactosidase in exercising human skeletal muscle

J Ginseng Res. 2019 Oct;43(4):580-588. doi: 10.1016/j.jgr.2018.06.002. Epub 2018 Jun 21.


Background: Ginsenoside Rg1 has been shown to clear senescence-associated beta-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) in cultured cells. It remains unknown whether Rg1 can influence SA-β-gal in exercising human skeletal muscle.

Methods: To examine SA-β-gal change, 12 young men (age 21 ± 0.2 years) were enrolled in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled crossover study, under two occasions: placebo (PLA) and Rg1 (5 mg) supplementations 1 h prior to a high-intensity cycling (70% VO2max). Muscle samples were collected by multiple biopsies before and after cycling exercise (0 h and 3 h). To avoid potential effect of muscle biopsy on performance assessment, cycling time to exhaustion test (80% VO2max) was conducted on another 12 participants (age 23 ± 0.5 years) with the same experimental design.

Results: No changes of SA-β-gal were observed after cycling in the PLA trial. On the contrary, nine of the 12 participants showed complete elimination of SA-β-gal in exercised muscle after cycling in the Rg1 trial (p < 0.05). Increases in apoptotic DNA fragmentation (PLA: +87% vs. Rg1: +133%, p < 0.05) and CD68+ (PLA: +78% vs. Rg1: +121%, p = 0.17) occurred immediately after cycling in both trials. During the 3-h recovery, reverses in apoptotic nuclei content (PLA: +5% vs. Rg1: -32%, p < 0.01) and increases in inducible nitrate oxide synthase and interleukin 6 mRNA levels of exercised muscle were observed only in the Rg1 trial (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Rg1 supplementation effectively eliminates senescent cells in exercising human skeletal muscle and improves high-intensity endurance performance.

Keywords: Cellular senescence; Endurance; Ergogenic aid; Inflammation; Macrophage.