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Biochem Pharmacol. 2001 Oct 1;62(7):943-51.

Characterization of ginseng saponin ginsenoside-Rg(3) inhibition of catecholamine secretion in bovine adrenal chromaffin cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Iwate Medical University, Uchimaru 19-1, 020-8505, Morioka, Japan.


Since ginsenoside-Rg(3), one of the panaxadiol saponins isolated from the ginseng root, significantly inhibited the secretion of catecholamines from bovine adrenal chromaffin cells stimulated by acetylcholine (ACh), the properties of ginsenoside-Rg(3) inhibition were investigated. Although ginsenoside-Rg(3) inhibited the secretion evoked by ACh in a concentration-dependent manner, it affected the secretion stimulated by high K(+) or veratridine, an activator of the voltage-sensitive Ca(2+) or Na(+) channels, only slightly. The ACh-induced Na(+) and Ca(2+) influxes into the cells were also reduced by ginsenoside-Rg(3). The inhibitory effect of this saponin on the secretion of catecholamines was not altered by increasing the external concentration of ACh or Ca(2+). The ACh-evoked secretion of catecholamines was completely restored in cells that were preincubated with 10 microM ginsenoside-Rg(3) and then incubated without the saponin, whereas secretion was not completely restored in cells that were preincubated with 30 microM of this compound. Above 30 microM ginsenoside-Rg(3) increased the fluorescence anisotropy of diphenylhexatriene in the cells. Furthermore, the inhibitory effect of ginsenoside-Rg(3) at 30 microM on the ACh-evoked secretion of catecholamines was dependent upon the preincubation time, but this was not the case at 10 microM. These results strongly suggest that ginsenoside-Rg(3) blocks the nicotinic ACh receptor-operated cation channels, inhibits Na(+) influx through the channels, and consequently reduces both Ca(2+) influx and catecholamine secretion in bovine adrenal chromaffin cells. In addition to this action, the ginsenoside at higher concentrations modulates the fluidity of the plasma membrane, which probably contributes to the observed reduction in the secretion of catecholamines.

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