Pro-Resolving Effect of Ginsenosides as an Anti-Inflammatory Mechanism of Panax ginseng

Biomolecules. 2020 Mar 13;10(3):444. doi: 10.3390/biom10030444.


: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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents* / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Ginsenosides* / chemistry
  • Ginsenosides* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Ginsenosides
  • Plant Extracts