Ginseng root has been used in traditional oriental medicine for the enhancement of immune system function. The immunostimulatory effects of ginseng berry polysaccharides, however, remain unclear. Effects of polysaccharides from ginseng berry on the activation of natural killer (NK) cells and inhibition of tumors are reported. A crude polysaccharide was isolated from ginseng berry as a ginseng berry polysaccharide portion (GBPP) and was further fractionated using gel filtration chromatography to obtain the three polysaccharide fractions GBPP-I, -II and -III. GBPP-I consisted of mainly galactose (46.9%) and arabinose (27.5%). GBPP-I showed a high dose-dependent anticomplementary activity. Stimulation of murine peritoneal macrophages by GBPP-I showed the greatest enhancement of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-12 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α production. In addition, an ex vivo assay of natural killer (NK) cell activity showed that oral (p.o.) administration of GBPP-I significantly increased NK cell cytotoxicity in YAC-1 tumor cells and production of granzyme B. Prophylactic intravenous (i.v.) and p.o. administration of GBPP-I significantly and dose-dependently inhibited lung metastatic activity in B16BL6 melanoma cells. Depletion of NK cells after injection of rabbit anti-asialo GM1 partially abolished the inhibitory effect of GBPP-I on lung metastasis, indicating that NK cells play an important role in anticancer effects. GBPP-I exerts a strong immune-enhancing activity and can prevent cancer metastasis through activation of NK cells and other immune-related cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Complementary and alternative medicine