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J Ginseng Res. 2016 Jan;40(1):62-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jgr.2015.04.007. Epub 2015 May 12.

Increase in apoptotic effect of Panax ginseng by microwave processing in human prostate cancer cells: in vitro and in vivo studies.

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College of Korean Medicine, Gachon University, Seongnam, Korea.
KIST Gangneung Institute of Natural Products, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Gangneung, Korea.
Richwood Pharmaceutical Co., LTD., Seoul, Korea.



Ginseng, which is widely used in functional foods and as an herbal medicine, has been reported to reduce the proliferation of prostate cancer cells by mechanisms that are not yet fully understood.


This study was designed to investigate the changes in ginsenoside content in ginseng after treatment with a microwave-irradiation thermal process and to verify the anticancer effects of the extracts. To confirm the anticancer effect of microwave-irradiated processed ginseng (MG), it was tested in three human prostate cancer cell lines (DU145, LNCaP, and PC-3 cells). Involvements of apoptosis and autophagy were assessed using Western blotting.


After microwave treatment, the content of ginsenosides Rg1, Re, Rb1, Rc, Rb2, and Rd in the extracts decreased, whereas the content of ginsenosides 20(S)-Rg3, 20(R)-Rg3, Rk1, and Rg5 increased. Antiproliferation results for the human cancer cell lines treated with ginseng extracts indicate that PC-3 cells treated with MG showed the highest activity with an half maximal inhibitory concentration of 48 μg/mL. We also showed that MG suppresses the growth of human prostate cancer cell xenografts in athymic nude mice as an in vivo model. This growth suppression by MG is associated with the inductions of cell death and autophagy.


Therefore, heat processing by microwave irradiation is a useful method to enhance the anticancer effect of ginseng by increasing the content of ginsenosides Rg3, Rg5, and Rk1.


Panax ginseng; anticancer; ginsenoside; microwave; prostate cancer

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