Anti-cancer and potential chemopreventive actions of ginseng

Abstract

This article reviews recent basic and clinical studies of ginseng, particularly the anti-cancer effects and the potential chemopreventive actions by activating the transcriptional factor, nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2 or NFE2L2)-mediated anti-oxidative stress or anti-inflammatory pathways. Nrf2 is a novel target for cancer prevention as it regulates the antioxidant responsive element (ARE), a critical regulatory element in the promoter region of genes encoding cellular phase II detoxifying and anti-oxidative stress enzymes. The studies on the chemopreventive effects of ginseng or its components/products showed that Nrf2 could also be a target for ginseng’s actions. A number of papers also demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of ginseng. Targeting Nrf2 pathway is a novel approach to the investigation of ginseng’s cancer chemopreventive actions, including some oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions responsible for the initiation, promotion and progression of carcinogenesis.

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