Decoding the Cure-all Effects of Ginseng

Shining Loo, Antony Kam, Bamaprasad Dutta, Xiaohong Zhang, Nan Feng, Siu Kwan Sze, Chuan Fa Liu, Xiaoliang Wang, James P Tam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ginseng has been known as a “cure-all” traditional medicine to treat various illnesses and as an adaptogen to relieve stress. However, the known active compounds of ginseng are small-molecule metabolites. Here we report ginsentides, which are disulfide-dense, super-stable and cell-penetrating peptides with 31–33 amino acids, as active compounds and adaptogens that restore homeostasis in response to stress. Using mass spectrometry-based target identification and functional studies, we show that ginsentides promote vasorelaxation by producing nitric oxide through endothelial cells via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Ginsentides were also found to alleviate α1-adrenergic receptor overactivity by reversing phenylephrine-induced constriction of the aorta, decrease monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells via CD166/ESAM/CD40, inhibit P2Y12 receptors, reduce platelet aggregation, and thrombus formation in the lung. Orally administered ginsentides were effective in anti-stress behavior using animal models of tail suspension and forced swimming tests. Together, these results suggest that ginsentides interact with multiple systems to restore homeostasis by reversing stress-induced physiological changes and provide new insights into the panacea medicinal effects of ginseng.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2023


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