Ginsenoside Rd attenuates ACTH-induced corticosterone secretion by blocking the MC2R-cAMP/PKA/CREB pathway in Y1 mouse adrenocortical cells

Wenqi Jin, Rui Ma, Lu Zhai, Xiaohao Xu, Tingting Lou, Qingxia Huang, Jing Wang, Daqing Zhao, Xiangyan Li, Liwei Sun
Life Sciences 2020 January 20, : 117337

BACKGROUND: Higher levels of glucocorticoids (GCs), and impaired regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis may cause or exacerbate the occurrence of metabolic and psychiatric disorders. It has been reported that ginseng saponin extract (GSE) has an inhibitory effect on the hyperactivity of the HPA axis induced by stresses and increased corticosterone level induced by intraperitoneal injection of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) in mice. However, the molecular mechanisms by which GSE and its active ginsenosides inhibit corticosterone secretion remain elusive.

MAIN METHODS: Y1 mouse adrenocortical cells were treated with ACTH for up to 60 min to establish a cell model of corticosterone secretion. After treatment with different concentrations of GSE or ginsenoside monomers for 24 h prior to the addition of ACTH, analyses of cAMP content, PKA activity, and the levels of steroidogenesis regulators, melanocortin-2 receptor (MC2R), and melanocortin-2 receptor accessory protein (MRAP) in ACTH-induced Y1 cells were performed.

RESULTS: We demonstrated that GSE inhibits ACTH-stimulated corticosterone production in Y1 cells by inhibiting factors critical for steroid synthesis. Ginsenoside Rd, an active ingredient of GSE, inhibits corticosterone secretion in the cells and impedes ACTH-induced corticosterone biosynthesis through down-regulation of proteins in the cAMP/PKA/CREB signaling pathway. In addition, Western blot and qPCR analyses showed that ginsenoside Rd attenuated the induction of MC2R and MRAP by ACTH.

CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that ginsenoside Rd inhibits ACTH-induced corticosterone production through blockading the MC2R-cAMP/PKA/CREB pathway in adrenocortical cells. Overall, this mechanism may represent an important therapeutic option for the treatment of stress-related disorders, further supporting the pharmacological benefits of ginseng.

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