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Fitoterapia. 2019 Oct 17;139:104370. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2019.104370. [Epub ahead of print]

Ginseng and heme oxygenase-1: The link between an old herb and a new protective system.

Author information

1
Department of Drug Science, Biochemistry Section, University of Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy.
2
Department of Drug Science, Medicinal Chemistry Section, University of Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy.
3
Department of Drug Science, Medicinal Chemistry Section, University of Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy. Electronic address: s.intagliata@unict.it.

Abstract

Ginseng is an ancient herb, belonging to Asian traditional medicine, that has been considered as a restorative to enhance vitality for centuries. It has been demonstrated that the antioxidant action of ginseng may be mediated through activation of different cellular signaling pathways involving the heme oxygenase (HO) system. Several compounds derived from ginseng have been studied for their potential role in brain, heart and liver protection, and the Nrf2 pathway seems to be the most affected by these natural molecules to exert this effect. Ginseng is also popularly used in cancer patients therapy for the demonstrated capability to defend tissues from chemotherapy-induced damage. Reported results suggest that the effect of ginseng is primarily associated with ROS scavenging, mainly exerted through the activation of Nrf2 pathway, and the consequent induction of HO-1 levels. This review aims to discuss the connection between the antioxidant properties of ginseng and the activation of the HO system, as well as to outline novel therapeutic applications of this medicinal plant to human health.

KEYWORDS:

Antioxidant; Ginseng; Ginsenoside; Heme oxygenase; Nrf2

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