:Panax ginseng, also known as Korean ginseng, is a famous medicinal plant used for the treatment of many inflammatory diseases. Ginsenosides (ginseng saponins) are the main class of active constituents of ginseng. The anti-inflammatory effects of ginseng extracts were proven with purified ginsenosides, such as ginsenosides Rb1, Rg1, Rg3, and Rh2, as well as compound K. The negative regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine expressions (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6) and enzyme expressions (iNOS and COX-2) was found as the anti-inflammatory mechanism of ginsenosides in M1-polarized macrophages and microglia. Recently, another action mechanism emerged explaining the anti-inflammatory effect of ginseng. This is a pro-resolution of inflammation derived by M2-polarized macrophages. Direct and indirect evidence supports how several ginsenosides (ginsenoside Rg3, Rb1, and Rg1) induce the M2 polarization of macrophages and microglia, and how these M2-polarized cells contribute to the suppression of inflammation progression and promotion of inflammation resolution. In this review, the new action mechanism of ginseng anti-inflammation is summarized.
Keywords: M2 polarization; anti-inflammation; ginseng; ginsenoside; macrophage; pro-resolving.