Nutrients. 2021 Mar 5 ;13(3). Epub 2021 Mar 5. PMID: 33807927
Ginseng Saponin Enriched in Rh1 and Rg2 Ameliorates Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease by Inhibiting Inflammasome Activation.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming one of the most common chronic liver diseases in the world. One of the features of NAFLD is hepatic fat accumulation, which further causes hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation. Saponins, the major pharmacologically active ingredients isolated from, contain several ginsenosides, which have various pharmacological and therapeutic functions. However, the ginsenoside-specific molecular mechanism of saponins in NAFLD remains unknown. This study aimed to elucidate the effects of ginseng saponin extract and its ginsenosides on hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation and their underlying action mechanism in NAFLD. Mice were fed a fast food diet (FFD) for 16 weeks to induce NAFLD and then treated with saponin extract (50 or 150 mg/kg) for the remaining nine weeks to determine the effects of saponin on NAFLD. Saponin extract administration significantly alleviated FFD-induced hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation. Particularly, saponin extract, compared with conventional red ginseng, contained significantly increased amounts of ginsenosides (Rh1 (10.34-fold) and Rg2 (7.1-fold)). In vitro Rh1 and Rg2 treatments exerted an anti-steatotic effect in primary hepatocytes, an antifibrotic effect in hepatic stellate cells, and anti-inflammatory and pro-mitophagy effects in immortalized mouse Kupffer cells. Mechanistically, saponin extract alleviated lipopolysaccharide-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation by promoting mitophagy. In conclusion, saponin extract inhibited inflammation-mediated pathological inflammasome activation in macrophages, thereby preventing NAFLD development. Thus, saponin extract administration may be an alternative method for NAFLD prevention.