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Arch Pharm Res. 2003 Jan;26(1):58-63.

Ginsenoside-Rb1 acts as a weak phytoestrogen in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.

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College of Engineering, Institute of Biotechnology, Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Sejong University, Seoul, Korea.


Ginseng has been recommended to alleviate the menopausal symptoms, which indicates that components of ginseng very likely contain estrogenic activity. We have examined the possibility that a component of Panax ginseng, ginsenoside-Rb1, acts by binding to estrogen receptor. We have investigated the estrogenic activity of ginsenoside-Rb1 in a transient transfection system using estrogen-responsive luciferase plasmids in MCF-7 cells. Ginsenoside-Rb1 activated the transcription of the estrogen-responsive luciferase reporter gene in MCF-7 breast cancer cells at a concentration of 50 microM. Activation was inhibited by the specific estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780, indicating that the estrogenic effect of ginsenoside-Rb1 is estrogen receptor dependent. Next, we evaluated the ability of ginsenoside-Rb1 to induce the estrogen-responsive gene c-fos by semi-quantitative RT-PCR assays and Western analyses. Ginsenoside-Rb1 increased c-fos both at mRNA and protein levels. However, ginsenoside-Rb1 failed to activate the glucocorticoid receptor, the retinoic acid receptor, or the androgen receptor in CV-1 cells transiently transfected with the corresponding steroid hormone receptors and hormone responsive reporter plasmids. These data support our hypothesis that ginsenoside-Rb1 acts a weak phytoestrogen, presumably by binding and activating the estrogen receptor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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