Posted on Oct 16, 2020, 12 p.m.
Panax ginseng is one of the most widely used and studied species of ginseng, and it has been a staple herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help boost immunity, increase strength and blood volume, lower blood sugar levels, promote life, appetite, as well as helping to treat anemia and impotence.
A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine screened, identified and evaluated the bioactive compounds present in Panax ginseng, specifically looking at the neuroprotective effects which have been reported in several studies but remain poorly understood.
Cell culture and animal studies findings show that Panax ginseng exerts neuroprotective effects, but the specific bioactive compounds that are responsible for these effects and the mechanisms behind them require further investigation.
Affinity ultrafiltration, which is a combination of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry and molecular docking methods were used to screen, identify and evaluate the bioactive compounds in the herb for these experiments. AUF is often used to examine molecules of interest from complex matrices. UPLC-QTOF-MS is used to characterize and identify phytochemicals that are present in plant extracts. Molecular docking is used to predict the three-dimensional structure and binding conformation of ligands to their receptors.
Acetylcholinesterase, monoamine oxidase, and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor macromolecules were selected by the researchers to be the target proteins for AUF-MS screening which revealed 19 potential neuroactive compounds present in Panax ginseng.
AChE enzymes are responsible for breaking down acetylcholine neurotransmitters and are mainly found in the nerves and muscles. MAO-B enzymes break down brain chemicals including dopamine. The NMDA receptor protein is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain that glutamate binds to, and the dysfunction of this receptor is linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
All three macromolecules were found to have significant neuroactivity after evaluation of the bioactivities of the Panax ginseng components by AChE-inhibitory testing and DPPH assay, and the AUF results were confirmed with the molecular docking results; based on their findings the team concluded that Panax ginseng exerts a therapeutic effect against Alzheimer’s disease through the interaction between active components and biological targets.
Ginsenoside triterpene saponins are the main active components of this herb and the majority of research attributes the medicinal properties of the herb to these compounds. These compounds are believed to be potent neuroprotective agents that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour activities as well as the ability to inhibit cell apoptosis.
Panax Ginseng is believed to be a powerful medicinal herb with a variety of uses, besides promoting longevity it can help to boost brain health, cognitive performance, and it may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The herb is sold as a supplement in various forms such as tea, tinctures or powdered roots, with most research using it in powdered root form.
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