Objective: Korean red ginseng was reported to have many biological effects like the antioxidant
and the anti-inflammatory activities. Oxidative stress and neuro-inflammation play major roles in
the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The current study aimed to investigate the protective effects
of ginseng on rotenone-induced PD in rats.
Methods: Rats were randomly allocated into 4 groups: normal rats, rotenone control, ginseng+rotenone
and ginseng only treated rats. The severity of PD was evaluated through locomotor activity perceived
in the open field test, histological examination and immunohistochemical detection of amyloid-β in
brain tissues, in addition to the biochemical assessment of tyrosine hydroxylase activity in brain tissues.
Moreover, the following parameters were investigated for studying the possible mechanisms of
ginseng neuroprotective effect: nuclear factor-κβ (NF-κβ), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), caspase-
3, lipid peroxides and reduced glutathione (GSH).
Results: Ginseng exhibited potent neuroprotective effect that was reflected upon the histopathological
examination, marked improvement in the locomotor activity and through its ability to suppress the amyloid-
β deposition in the cortex and striatum along with significant increase in the tyrosine hydroxylase
activity. Ginseng successfully inhibited the NF-κβ inflammatory pathway in brain tissues beside the
inhibition of other oxidative stress and inflammatory mediators. Furthermore, it exhibited antiapoptotic
effect via the inhibition of caspase-3 expression.
Conclusion: Ginseng could be a promising treatment in PD. It can suppress dopaminergic neuron degeneration
through variable mechanisms mainly via inhibition of NF-κβ pathway in addition to inhibition
of oxidative stress and apoptosis.