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Arch Pharm Res. 2005 Mar;28(3):335-42.

Memory enhancing and neuroprotective effects of selected ginsenosides.

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College of Pharmacy, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Korea.


The effects of ginsenosides Rg3(R), Rg3(S) and Rg5/Rk1 (a mixture of Rg5 and Rk1, 1:1, w/w), which are components isolated from processed Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer (Araliaceae), on memory dysfunction were examined in mice using a passive avoidance test. The ginsenosides Rg3(R), Rg3(S) or Rg5/Rk1, when orally administered for 4 days, significantly ameliorated the memory impairment induced by the single oral administration of ethanol. The memory impairment induced by the intraperitoneal injection of scopolamine was also significantly recovered by ginsenosides Rg3(S) and Rg5/Rk1. Among the three ginsenosides tested in this study, Rg5/Rk1 enhanced the memory function of mice most effectively in both the ethanoland scopolamine-induced amnesia models. Moreover, the latency period of the Rg5/Rk1-treated mice was 1.2 times longer than that of the control (no amnesia) group in both models, implying that Rg5/Rk1 may also exert beneficial effects in the normal brain. We also evaluated the effects of these ginsenosides on the excitotoxic and oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell damage in primary cultured rat cortical cells. The excitotoxicity induced by glutamate or N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) was dramatically inhibited by the three ginsenosides. Rg3(S) and Rg5/Rk1 exhibited a more potent inhibition of excitotoxicity than did Rg3(R). In contrast, these ginsenosides were all ineffective against the H2O2- or xanthine/xanthine oxidase-induced oxidative neuronal damage. Taken together, these results indicate that ginsenosides Rg3(S) and Rg5/Rk1 significantly reversed the memory dysfunction induced by ethanol or scopolamine, and their neuroprotective actions against excitotoxicity may be attributed to their memory enhancing effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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