Oral administration of hydrolyzed red ginseng extract improves learning and memory capability of scopolamine-treated C57BL/6J mice via upregulation of Nrf2-mediated antioxidant mechanism.
J Ginseng Res. 2021 Jan ;45(1):108-118. Epub 2019 Dec 20. PMID: 33437162
Background: Korean ginseng (Meyer) contains a variety of ginsenosides that can be metabolized to a biologically active substance, compound K. Previous research showed that compound K could be enriched in the red ginseng extract (RGE) after hydrolysis by pectinase. The current study investigated whether the enzymatically hydrolyzed red ginseng extract (HRGE) containing a notable level of compound K has cognitive improving and neuroprotective effects.
Methods: A scopolamine-induced hypomnesic mouse model was subjected to behavioral tasks, such as the Y-maze, passive avoidance, and the Morris water maze tests. After sacrificing the mice, the brains were collected, histologically examined (hematoxylin and eosin staining), and the expressions of antioxidant proteins analyzed by western blot.
Results: Behavioral assessment indicated that the oral administration of HRGE at a dosage of 300 mg/kg body weight reversed scopolamine-induced learning and memory deficits. Histological examination demonstrated that the hippocampal damage observed in scopolamine-treated mouse brains was reduced by HRGE administration. In addition, HRGE administration increased the expression of nuclear-factor-E2-related factor 2 and its downstream antioxidant enzymes NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase and heme oxygenase-1 in hippocampal tissue homogenates. Anassay using HT22 mouse hippocampal neuronal cells demonstrated that HRGE treatment attenuated glutamate-induced cytotoxicity by decreasing the intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that HRGE administration can effectively alleviate hippocampus-mediated cognitive impairment, possibly through cytoprotective mechanisms, preventing oxidative-stress-induced neuronal cell death via the upregulation of phase 2 antioxidant molecules.