Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 203, Issue 1–2, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Antioxidant properties of a North American ginseng extract

  • David D. Kitts
  • Arosha N. Wijewickreme
  • Chun Hu


A North American ginseng extract (NAGE) containing known principle ginsenosides for Panax quinquefolius was assayed for metal chelation, affinity to scavenge DPPH-stable free radical, and peroxyl (LOO·) and hydroxyl (·OH) free radicals for the purpose of characterizing mechanisms of antioxidant activity. Dissociation constants (Kd) for NAGE to bind transition metals were in the order of Fe2+ > Cu2+ > Fe3+ and corresponded to the affinity to inhibit metal induced lipid peroxidation. In a metal-free linoleic acid emulsion, NAGE exhibited a significant (p ≤ 0.05) concentration (0.01-10 mg/mL) dependent mitigation of lipid oxidation as assessed by the ammonium thiocyanate method. Similar results were obtained when NAGE was incubated in a methyl linoleate emulsion containing haemoglobin catalyst and assessed by an oxygen electrode. NAGE also showed strong DPPH radical scavenging activity up to a concentration of 1.6 mg/mL (r2 = 0.996). Similar results were obtained for scavenging of both site-specific and non site-specific ·OH, using the deoxyribose assay method. Moreover, NAGE effectively inhibited the non site-specific DNA strand breakage caused by Fenton agents, and suppressed the Fenton induced oxidation of a 66 Kd soluble protein obtained from mouse brain over a concentration range of 2-40 mg/mL. These results indicate that NAGE exhibits effective antioxidant activity in both lipid and aqueous mediums by both chelation of metal ions and scavenging of free radicals.

lipid oxidation hydroxyl radical peroxyl radical chelation DNA Fenton reaction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Duke JA: Ginseng: A Concise Hand Book. Reference Publication Inc., Michigan, USA, 1989Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Li TSC, Mazza G, Cottrell AC, Gao L: Ginsenosides in roots and leaves of American ginseng. J Agric Food Chem 44: 717-720, 1996Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kim YW, Song DK, Kim VVH, Lee KM, Wie MB, Kim Y-H, Kee SH, Cho MK: Long-term oral administration of ginseng extract decreases serum gamma-globulin and IgG1 iso-type in mice. J Ethnopharmacology 58: 55-58, 1996Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Yokosawa T, Seno H, Oura H: Effect of ginseng extract on lipid and sugar metabolism. I. Metabolic circulation between liver and adipose tissue. Chem Pharmacol Bull (Tokyo) 23: 3095-3100, 1975Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Takahashi M, Tokuyama S, Kane H: Anti-stress effect of ginseng on the inhibition of the development of morphine tolerance in stressed mice. Japan J Pharmacol 59: 399-404, 1992Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Zhang D, Yasuda T, Yu Y, Sheng P, Kawabata T, Ma Y, Okada S: Ginseng extract scavenges hydroxyl radical and protects unsaturated fatty acids from decomposition caused by iron mediated lipid peroxidation. Free Rad Biol Med 20: 145-150, 1996Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kim YH, Park KH, Rho HM: Transcriptional activation of the Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase gene through the AP2 site by ginsenoside Rb2 extracted from a medicinal plant, Panax ginseng. J Biol Chem 271: 24539-24543, 1996Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Duda RB, Zhong Y, Navas V, Li MZC, Toy BR, Alvarez J: Synergistic growth inhibitory properties are identified with the concurrent use of American ginseng and breast cancer therapeutic agents in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Ann Surg Oncol: 1999 (submitted)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Xiaoguang C, Hongyan L, Xiaohong L, Zhaodi F, Yan L, Lihua T, Rui H: Cancer chemoprevention and therapeutic activities of red ginseng. J Ethnopharmacol 60: 71-78, 1998Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Jitoe A, Masuda T, Tengah IGP, Suprapta DN, Gara IW, Nakatani N: Antioxidant activity of tropical ginger extracts and analysis of the contained cucuminoids. J Agric Food Chem 40: 1337-1340, 1992Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Prasad K, Laxdal VA, Yu M, Raney BIL: Evaluation of hydroxyl radical-scavenging property of garlic. Mol Cell Biochem 154: 55-63, 1996Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Wang H, Cao G, Prior RL: Total antioxidant capacity of fruits. J Agric Food Chem 44: 701-705, 1996Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wang H, Cao G, Prior RL: Oxygen radical absorbing capacity of anthocyanins. J Agric Food Chem 45: 304-309, 1997Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Halliwell B, Gutteridge JMC: The definition and measurement of antioxidants. Free Rad Biol Med 18: 125-126, 1995Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wijewickreme AN, Kitts DD: Influence of reaction conditions on the oxidative behaviour of model Maillard reaction products. J Agric Food Chem 45: 4571-4576, 1997Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Smith RG, Caswell D, Carriere A, Zielke B: Variation in the ginsenoside content of American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius L., roots. Can J Bot 74: 1616-1620, 1996Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mah YC, Zhu J, Benkrima L, Luo M, Sun L, Sain S, Kont K, Plaut-Carcasson YY: A comparative evaluation of ginsenosides in commercial ginseng products in tissue culture samples using HPLC. J Herbs Spices Med Plants 3: 41-50, 1996Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wijewickreme AN, Kitts DD: Modulation of metal induced genotoxicity by Maillard reaction products isolated from coffee. Food Chem Toxicol 36: 543-553, 1998Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wijewickreme AN, Kitts DD, Durance TD: Reaction conditions influence the elementary composition and metal chelating affinity of non-dialyzable model Maillard reaction products. J Agric Food Chem 45: 4577-4583, 1997Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Asamari AM, Addis PB, Epley RJ, Krick TP: Wild rice hull antioxidants. J Agric Food Chem 44: 126-130, 1996Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Taylor MJ, Richardson T: Antioxidant activity of cystein and protein sulfhydryls in a linoleate emulsion oxidized by haemoglobin. J Food Sci 45: 1223-1230, 1991Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Brad-Williams W, Cuvelier ME, Berset C: Use of a free radical method to evaluate antioxidant activity. Lebenim-Wiss Technol 28: 25-30, 1995Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Halliwell B, Gutteridge JMC, Aruoma OI: The deoxyribose method: A simple test tube assay for determination of the rate constants for reactions of hydroxyl radicals. Anal Biochem 165: 215-219, 1987Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Aruoma OI, Grootveld M, Halliwell B: The role of iron in ascorbate-dependent deoxyribose degradation. Evidence consistent with site-specific hydroxyl radical generation caused by iron ions bound to deoxyribose molecule. J Inorg Biochem 29: 289-299, 1987Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Repine IE, Eaton IW, Anders MW, Hoidal IR, Fox RB: Dimethyl sulfoxide prevents DNA nicking mediated by ionizing radiation or iron/hydrogen peroxide-generated hydroxyl radical. Proc Natl Acad Sci 72: 248-254, 1981Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bradford MM: A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem 86: 142-146, 1976Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lammeli UK: Cleavage of structural proteins during the assembly of the head of the bacteriophage T4. Nature 227: 680-685, 1970Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Shibata S, Tanaka O, Soma K, Ilda Y, Ando T, Nakamura H: Studies on saponins and sapogenins of ginseng. The structure of panaxatriol. Tet Lett 3: 207-213, 1965Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Tanaka O: Ginseng and its congeners, traditional oriented food drugs. In: C.T. Ho, T. Osawa, M.T. Huang, R.T. Rosen (eds). Food Phytochemicals for Cancer Prevention. II. Spices and Herbs. American Chem Soc., Washington, 1994, pp 335-341Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pietta P, Mauri P, Rava A: Improved high-performance liquid chromatographic method for the analysis of ginsenosides in Panax ginseng extracts and products. J Chromatogr 356: 212-218, 1986Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Graf E, Mahoney JR, Bryant RG, Eaton JW: Iron catalyzed hydroxyl radical formation: Stringent requirement for free iron cordination site. J Biol Chem 259: 3620-3624, 1984Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ueda J, Saito N, Shimazu Y, Ozawa T: A comparison of scavenging abilities of antioxidants against hydroxyl radical. Arch Biochem Biophys 333: 377-384, 1996Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Biaglow JE, Manevich Y, Uckun F, Held KD: Quantitation of hydroxyl radicals produced by radiation and copper linked oxidation of ascorbate by 2-deoxy-D-ribose method. Free Rad Biol Chem 22: 1129-1138, 1997Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Graf E, Eaton JW: Antioxidant functions of phytic acid. Free Rad Biol Med 8: 61-69, 1987Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Mahoney JR, Graf E: Role of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, citric acid and EDTA as oxidants in model systems. J Food Sci 51: 1293-1296, 1986Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Minotti G, Aust SD: The requirement of iron (III) in the initiation of lipid peroxidation by iron (II) and hydrogen peroxide. J Biol Chem 262: 1098-1104, 1990Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Van Dyke BR, Saltman R: Haemoglobin: A mechanism for the generation of hydroxyl radicals. Free Rad Biol Med 20: 985-989, 1996Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gutteridge JMC: Iron promoters of the Fenton reaction and lipid peroxidation can be released from haemoglobin by peroxides. FEBS Lett 201: 291-295, 1987Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Balla G, Vercellotti GM, Mullet-Eberhard U, Eaton J, Jacob HS: Exposure of endothelial cells to free heme potentiates damage mediated by granulocytes and toxic oxygen species. Lab Invest 64: 648-655, 1991Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Huang SW, Frankel EN, Aeschbach R, German JB: Partition of selected antioxidants in corn oil-water model systems. J Agric Food Chem 45: 1991-1994, 1997Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Aeshbach R, Loliget J, Scott BC, Murcia A, Butler J, Halliwell B, Aruoma OI: The antioxidant actions of thymol, carvacrol, 6-gingerol, zingerone, and hydroxytyrosol. Food Chem Toxicol 32: 31-36, 1994Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Yang M-H, Schaich KM: Factors affecting DNA damage caused by lipid hydroperoxides and aldehydes. Free Rad Biol Med 20: 225-236, 1996Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Halliwell B, Grootveld M, Gutteridge J: Methods for the measurement of hydroxyl radicals in biochemical systems: Deoxyribose degradation and aromatic hydroxylation. Met Biochem Anal 33: 59-90, 1988Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Dumont E, Petit E, Tarrade T, Nouvelot A: UV-C irradiation-induced peroxidative degradation of microsomal fatty acids and proteins: Protection by an extract of Ginkgo biloba (EGb, 761). Free Rad Biol Med 13: 197-203, 1992Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Nagasawa T, Hatayama T, Watanabe Y, Tanaka M, Niisato Y, Kitts DD: Free radical mediated effects on skeletal muscle protein in rats treated with Fe-nitrilotriacetate. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 231: 37-41, 1996Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Beppu M, Mizukami A, Nagoya M, Kikugawa A: Binding of anti-band 3 autoantibody to oxidatively damaged erythrocytes. Formation of senescent antigen on erythrocyte surface by an oxidative mechanism. J Biol Chem 265: 3226-3233, 1990Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • David D. Kitts
    • 1
  • Arosha N. Wijewickreme
    • 2
  • Chun Hu
    • 2
  1. 1.Food, Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouver, BCCanada
  2. 2.Food, Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouver, BCCanada

Personalised recommendations