Voltage-dependent inhibition of brain Na(+) channels by American ginseng


Liu D, Li B, Liu Y, Attele AS, Kyle JW, Yuan CS




Eur J Pharmacol


American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a major species of ginseng that has many pharmacological effects. Studies have demonstrated that constituents of ginseng have neuroprotective effects during ischemia. Neuronal damage during ischemic episodes has been associated with abnormal Na(+) fluxes. Drugs that block voltage-dependent Na(+) channels provide cytoprotection during cerebral ischemia. We thus hypothesized that American ginseng may block Na(+) channels. In this study, effects of an American ginseng aqueous extract was evaluated in tsA201 cells transfected with cDNA expressing alpha subunits of the Brain(2a) Na(+) channel using the whole-cell patch clamp technique. We found that American ginseng extract tonically and reversibly blocked the channel in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner. It shifted the voltage-dependence of inactivation by 14 mV (3 mg/ml) in the hyperpolarizing direction and delayed recovery from inactivation, whereas activation of the channel was unaffected. Ginsenoside Rb(1), a major constituent of the American ginseng extract, produced similar effects. The data were compared with the actions of lidocaine, a Na(+) channel blocker. Our results suggest that Na(+) channel block by American ginseng extract and Rb(1) was primarily due to interaction with the inactive state of the channel. Inhibition of the Na(+) channel activity by American ginseng extract may contribute to its neuroprotective effect during ischemia.