Ginseng has been used as an herbal medicine and nutritional supplement in East Asia for thousands of years and gained popularity in the west because of its various pharmacological properties. Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) and Panax quinquefolium (North American ginseng) both are reported to possess antihyperglycemic properties. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the preventive effects of North American ginseng on diabetic nephropathy (DN) and the underlying mechanisms of such effects.
Models of both type 1 (C57BL/6 mice with STZ-induced diabetes) and type 2 diabetes (db/db mice) and age- and sex-matched controls were examined. Alcoholic ginseng root (200mg/kgbodywt, daily oral gavage) extract was administered to the diabetic mice (type 1 and type 2) for two or four months in order to evaluate its effects on DN.
Dysmetabolic state in the diabetic mice was significantly improved by ginseng treatment. In the kidneys of diabetic animals, ginseng significantly prevented oxidative stress and reduced the NF-κB (p65) levels. Diabetes-induced up-regulations of ECM proteins and vasoactive factors in the kidneys were significantly diminished by ginseng administration. Furthermore, albuminuria and mesangial expansion in the diabetic mice were prevented by ginseng therapy.
North American ginseng has preventive effects on DN and it works through a combination of mechanisms such as antihyperglycemic and antioxidant activities.