Beneficial effect of ginseng root in SOD-1 (G93A) transgenic mice
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Many patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; motor neuron disease) use natural or traditional therapies of unproven benefit. One such therapy is ginseng root. However, in some other disease models, ginseng has proven efficacious. Ginseng improves learning and memory in rats, and reduces neuronal death following transient cerebral ischemia. These effects of ginseng have been related to increases in the expression of nerve growth factor and its high affinity receptor in the rat brain, and antioxidant actions, inter alia. Since such actions could be beneficial in ALS as well, we studied the effect of ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), 40 and 80 mg/Kg, in B6SJL-TgN(SOD1-G93A)1Gur transgenic mice. The ginseng was given in drinking water, from age 30d onwards. We measured the time to onset of signs of motor impairment, and survival. There was no difference between the two ginseng groups (n=6, 6) in either measure. However, compared to controls (n=13), there was a prolongation in onset of signs (116d vs. 94d, P<0.001), and survival (139d vs. 132d, P<0.05). These experiments lend support to the use of ginseng root in ALS. Future experiments using this model could examine for symptomatic effects of ginseng, measure the effect of specific ginsenosides (which differ between ginseng species), and elucidate their mechanisms of action.
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