Ginsenoside Rg3 increases nitric oxide production via increases in phosphorylation and expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase: essential roles of estrogen receptor-dependent PI3-kinase and AMP-activated protein kinase

Tran Thi Hien, Nak Doo Kim, Yuba Raj Pokharel, Seok Jeong Oh, Moo Yeol Lee, Keon Wook Kang
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2010 August 1, 246 (3): 171-83
We previously showed that ginsenosides increase nitric oxide (NO) production in vascular endothelium and that ginsenoside Rg3 (Rg3) is the most active one among ginseng saponins. However, the mechanism for Rg3-mediated nitric oxide production is still uncertain. In this study, we determined whether Rg3 affects phosphorylation and expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in ECV 304 human endothelial cells. Rg3 increased both the phosphorylation and the expression of eNOS in a concentration-dependent manner and a maximal effect was found at 10μg/ml of Rg3. The enzyme activities of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and p38 kinase were enhanced as were estrogen receptor (ER)- and glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-dependent reporter gene transcriptions in Rg3-treated endothelial cells. Rg3-induced eNOS phosphorylation required the ER-mediated PI3-kinase/Akt pathway. Moreover, Rg3 activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) through up-regulation of CaM kinase II and Rg3-stimulated eNOS phosphorylation was reversed by AMPK inhibition. The present results provide a mechanism for Rg3-stimulated endothelial NO production.

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