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Mol Med Rep. 2017 Jun;15(6):3591-3598. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2017.6459. Epub 2017 Apr 11.

Ginsenoside Rh2 and Rg3 inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis by increasing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species in human leukemia Jurkat cells.

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Key Laboratory of Industrial Fermentation Microbiology, Ministry of Education, College of Biotechnology, Tianjin University of Science and Technology, Tianjin 300457, P.R. China.
Department of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat‑sen University Cancer Center, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510060, P.R. China.
Department of Pediatrics, The Fifth Hospital of Sun Yat‑Sen University, Sun Yat‑sen University, Zhuhai, Guangdong 519000, P.R. China.
Department of Pediatrics, Sun Yat‑sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat‑sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510120, P.R. China.


Ginsenoside Rh2 (GRh2) and ginsenoside Rg3 (GRg3) are primary bioactive components in Panax ginseng. The present study aimed to investigate the underlying mechanisms of apoptotic cell‑death induced by GRh2 and GRg3 in human leukemia Jurkat cells. The Cell Counting kit‑8 assay was used to determine cell proliferation. Apoptosis was detected by nuclear morphologic observation by Hoechst 33342 staining and Annexin V-allophycocyanin and 7-amino-actinomycin D assay. mitoTEMPO, a mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, was used to examine the effects of mitochondrial ROS on cell viability and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). Finally, the expression levels of numerous mitochondrial‑associated apoptosis proteins were assessed by western blot analysis. These results demonstrated that GRh2 and GRg3 inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis, and that GRh2 had greater cytotoxicity than GRg3. GRh2 induced generation of more mitochondrial ROS compared with GRg3 in Jurkat cells; however, this effect was ameliorated by subsequent treatment with mitoTEMPO. Furthermore, excess mitochondrial ROS induced by GRh2 was more potent than GRg3 in inhibiting cell proliferation and reducing MMP. In addition, expression levels of apoptosis‑associated proteins were significantly increased in Jurkat cells treated with GRh2 than GRg3. In conclusion, these findings suggested that GRh2 and GRg3 induce mitochondrial-associated apoptosis by increasing mitochondrial ROS in human leukemia Jurkat cells. GRh2 may more effectively inhibit cell growth and accelerate apoptosis than GRg3. This study provides a potential novel strategy for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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