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J Ginseng Res. 2014 Jan;38(1):22-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jgr.2013.11.007. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Stereospecific anticancer effects of ginsenoside Rg3 epimers isolated from heat-processed American ginseng on human gastric cancer cell.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Gangneung, Korea.
  • 2Natural Medicine Center, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Gangneung, Korea.
  • 3Richwood Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Gangneung, Korea.



Research has been conducted with regard to the development of methods for improving the pharmaceutical effect of ginseng by conversion of ginsenosides, which are the major active components of ginseng, via high temperature or high-pressure processing.


The present study sought to investigate the anticancer effect of heat-processed American ginseng (HAG) in human gastric cancer AGS cells with a focus on assessing the role of apoptosis as an important mechanistic element in its anticancer actions.


HAG significantly reduced the cancer cell proliferation, and the contents of ginsenosides Rb1 and Re were markedly decreased, whereas the peaks of less-polar ginsenosides [20(S,R)-Rg3, Rk1, and Rg5] were newly detected. Based on the activity-guided fractionation of HAG, ginsenoside 20(S)-Rg3 played a key role in inducing apoptosis in human gastric cancer AGS cells, and it was generated mainly from ginsenoside Rb1. Ginsenoside 20(S)-Rg3 induced apoptosis through activation of caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9, as well as regulation of Bcl-2 and Bax expression. Taken together, these findings suggest that heat-processing serves as an increase in the antitumor activity of American ginseng in AGS cells, and ginsenoside 20(S)-Rg3, the active component produced by heat-processing, induces the activation of caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9, which contributes to the apoptotic cell death.


American ginseng; Panax quinquefolius; ginsenoside20(S)-Rg3; heat processing

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