Panax ginseng prevents apoptosis in hair follicles and accelerates recovery of hair medullary cells in irradiated mice

In Vivo. 1998 Mar-Apr;12(2):219-22.


We studied the effect of the water fraction of Panax ginseng, one of traditional oriental medicine herbs on apoptosis and the formation of medullary cell in the hair follicles of irradiated mice. The hair follicle or its differentiated product, the hair, which represents a linear historical record of follicular proliferative activity, could provide a biological indicator of the effect of radioprotective drugs. Adult N:GP(s) mice with hair follicles synchronously in the middle of the hair growth cycle received whole-body doses of gamma-radiation. The hair follicles were analysed either 12 hours after irradiation with 2 Gy in the experiment on the apoptosis, or 3 days after irradiation with 3 Gy in the experiment on the forming medulla. The number of medullary cells per unit length (100 microns) were measured by H and E staining. Apoptosis was detected by a nonisotopic in situ DNA end-labeling (ISEL) technique and H and E stain applied to the serial histologic sections. Ginseng administration before irradiation resulted in a suppression of apoptosis, as shown by a reduced number of cells stained with ISEL for fragmented DNA, both i.p. (0.3 mg/head, p < 0.05) and p.o. (2 mg/ml of drinking water, p < 0.05) treatment. In addition, ginseng treatment was associated with an increase in the number of medullary cell per unit length as compared with the vehicle treated mice (p < 0.001, i.p.; p < 0.05, p.o.). These results indicate that the water fraction of ginseng can exert a potent effect on the recovery of the hair follicles by its combined effects on proliferation and apoptosis of the cells in the hair follicle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Hair Follicle / cytology
  • Hair Follicle / drug effects*
  • Hair Follicle / radiation effects*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Mice
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Whole-Body Irradiation


  • Plant Extracts