Herbal Medicine & PNS Neurological Effects

Ginseng & Diabetes-Induced Neurodegeneration

Ginsenosides Attenuate Methylglyoxal-Induced Impairment of Insulin Signaling and Subsequent Apoptosis in Primary Astrocytes

Neuropharmacology. 2014 May 28;85C:215-223. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2014.05.029. [Epub ahead of print]

Source: PubMed

Chu JM1, et al.

Chinese Ginseng Root

Chinese Ginseng Root

Diabetes mellitus (DM), which is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, is known to increase the risk of neurodegeneration. In type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia could cause insulin resistance and neurodegeneration in various cells including neurons and astrocytes. Hyperglycemia is also known to result in the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGE) Methylglyoxal (MG) is one of the most reactive AGE precursors in which its abnormal accumulation is usually found in diabetic patients and induces neuronal cell death in central nervous system.

    Ginseng is a herb that has been widely used to treat various diseases in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginsenosides, the pharmacologically active component isolated from ginseng, have been shown to have cryoprotective effects in different neural cells. In the present study we investigated the effects of MG in disturbing insulin signaling and leading to further cellular apoptosis in rat primary astrocytes. Furthermore, the protective effects of different subtypes of ginsenosides were studied.

    From the results, impairment of insulin signaling was found in astrocytes under MG treatment. Moreover, cleavage of caspase and Poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) was observed in line with insulin signaling disruption, showing the neurotoxic effects of MG towards astrocytes.

    The effects of ginsenosides in MG treated astrocytes were also investigated. After treatment, ginsenosides Rd and R-Rh2 were shown to ameliorate the cell viability of MG-treated astrocytes. In addition, Rd and R-Rh2 could improve insulin signaling and inhibit apoptosis, indicating that Rd, R-Rh2 and related compounds may have therapeutic potential in treating diabetes-induced neurodegeneration.