J Ginseng Res. 2020 Jul ;44(4):593-602. Epub 2019 May 24. PMID: 32617039
Korean Red Ginseng alleviates neuroinflammation and promotes cell survival in the intermittent heat stress-induced rat brain by suppressing oxidative stress via estrogen receptor beta and brain-derived neurotrophic factor upregulation.
Background: Heat stress orchestrates neurodegenerative disorders and results in the formation of reactive oxygen species that leads to cell death. Although the immunomodulatory effects of ginseng are well studied, the mechanism by which ginseng alleviates heat stress in the brain remains elusive.Methods: Rats were exposed to intermittent heat stress for 6 months, and brain samples were examined to elucidate survival and antiinflammatory effect after Korean Red Ginseng (KRG) treatment.Results: Intermittent long-term heat stress (ILTHS) upregulated the expression of cyclooxygenase 2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase, increasing infiltration of inflammatory cells (hematoxylin and eosin staining) and the level of proinflammatory cytokines [tumor necrosis factorα, interferon gamma (IFN-γ), interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6], leading to cell death (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling assay) and elevated markers of oxidative stress damage (myeloperoxidase and malondialdehyde), resulting in the downregulation of antiapoptotic markers (Bcl-2 and Bcl-x) and expression of estrogen receptor beta and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, key factors in regulating neuronal cell survival. In contrast, KRG mitigated ILTHS-induced release of proinflammatory mediators, upregulated the mRNA level of the antiinflammatory cytokine IL-10, and increased myeloperoxidase and malondialdehyde levels. In addition, KRG significantly decreased the expression of the proapoptotic marker (Bax), did not affect caspase-3 expression, but increased the expression of antiapoptotic markers (Bcl-2 and Bcl-x). Furthermore, KRG significantly activated the expression of both estrogen receptor beta and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.Conclusion: ILTHS induced oxidative stress responses and inflammatory molecules, which can lead to impaired neurogenesis and ultimately neuronal death, whereas, KRG, being the antioxidant, inhibited neuronal damage and increased cell viability.