The inhibitory effect of ginsan on TGF-β mediated fibrotic process

Ji-Yeon Ahn, Mi-Hyoung Kim, Min-Jin Lim, Sarah Park, Sae-lo-oom Lee, Yeon-Sook Yun, Jie-Young Song
Journal of Cellular Physiology 2011, 226 (5): 1241-7
Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) plays a central role in the development of fibrosis by stimulating extracellular matrix accumulation, and signals either directly or indirectly through types I, II, and III (TβRI, II, and III) TGF-β receptor complexes. Ginsan, a polysaccharide extracted from Panax ginseng, has multiple immunomodulatory effects. Here, we examine whether ginsan regulates the fibrogenic process by interfering with TGF-β signaling pathways. TGF-β treatment of murine or human normal lung fibroblasts enhanced the levels of several fibrotic markers, including smooth muscle alpha actin (α-SMA), collagen-1, and fibronectin. Interestingly, ginsan treatment either before or after TGF-β administration led to significant reductions in all of α-SMA, collagen-1, and fibronectin expression levels. Ginsan not only inhibited phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3, but also attenuated pERK and pAKT signaling induced by TGF-β. Moreover, ginsan restored TβRIII protein expression, which was significantly downregulated by TGF-β, but reduced TβRI and TβRII protein levels. In a murine model of bleomycin (BLM)-induced pulmonary fibrosis, ginsan significantly suppressed accumulation of collagen, α-SMA, and TGF-β. These data collectively suggest that ginsan acts as an effective anti-fibrotic agent in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis by blocking multiple TGF-β signaling pathways.

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