Antidepressant-like effects of the active acidic polysaccharide portion of ginseng in mice

Jia Wang, Shlomit Flaisher-Grinberg, Shanshan Li, Haibo Liu, Lin Sun, Yifa Zhou, Haim Einat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Aim of the study: The biological of activity of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer (ginseng) is complex but some of its known effects are related to affective and anxiety disorders, including the enhancement of neuroprotection, cellular resilience and plasticity. Whereas such effects suggest that ginseng might have antidepressant activity, previous studies show incongruent results. The sources of contrasting results might be many but one possibility is the utilization of different ginseng preparations in different studies. The current study was therefore designed to examine the effects of a very specific component of ginseng extract, the acidic polysaccharide portion of the plant (WGPA), containing arabinogalactan, type-I rhamnogalacturonan (RG-I)- and homogalacturonan (HG)-rich pectins. Materials and methods: WGPA was extracted from ginseng roots and administered orally to mice at 100. mg/kg and 200. mg/kg doses. WGPA was administered chronically, once daily for 1 week before the start of experiments and throughout the behavioral tests battery. Mice were tested for spontaneous activity, social interactions, anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and despair-like behavior in the forced swim test (FST). Results: WGPA had no effects on spontaneous activity or behavior in the EPM. In contrast, 100. mg/kg (but not the 200. mg/kg) WGPA significantly reduced immobility time in the FST and both doses significantly increased social interactions and decreased aggressive behaviors in mice. Conclusion: These results suggest that chronic WGPA treatment might have antidepressant-like effects that are unrelated to generalized behavioral changes. The results are discussed in the context of the known ability of the active ingredients of ginseng to increase neuroprotection, similar to many of the current antidepressant and mood stabilizing drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective disorders
  • Animal models
  • Depression
  • Ginsenoside
  • Natural products
  • Polysaccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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