Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1998 Nov; 5(6): 882-7.
Effects of ginseng treatment on neutrophil chemiluminescence and immunoglobulin G subclasses in a rat model of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia.
Department of Clinical Microbiology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is almost impossible to eradicate with antibiotic treatment. In the present study, the effects of treatment with the Chinese herbal medicine ginseng on blood polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) chemiluminescence and serum specific antibody responses were studied in a rat model of chronic P. aeruginosa pneumonia mimicking CF. An aqueous extract of ginseng was administered by subcutaneous injection at a dosage of 25 mg/kg of body weight/day for 2 weeks. Saline was used as a control. Two weeks after the start of ginseng treatment, significantly increased PMN chemiluminescence (P </= 0. 001) and a decreased level in serum of immunoglobulin G (IgG) against P. aeruginosa (P < 0.05) were found. Furthermore, a higher IgG2a level (P < 0.04) but lower IgG1 level (P < 0.04) were found in the ginseng-treated infected group than in the control group. In the ginseng-treated group the macroscopic lung pathology was milder (P = 0.0003) and the percent PMNs in the cells collected by bronchoalveolar lavage was lower (P = 0.0006) than in the control group. However, the alveolar macrophage (AM) chemiluminescence values were not significantly different in the two groups infected with P. aeruginosa. The differences between the ginseng-treated noninfected rats and the control group (without P. aeruginosa lung infection) for the PMN chemiluminescence and AM chemiluminescence were not significant. These results suggest that ginseng treatment leads to an activation of PMNs and modulation of the IgG response to P. aeruginosa, enhancing the bacterial clearance and thereby reducing the formation of immune complexes, resulting in a milder lung pathology. The changes in IgG1 and IgG2a subclasses indicate a possible shift from a Th-2-like to a Th-1-like response. These findings indicate that the therapeutic effects of ginseng may be related to activation of a Th-1 type of cellular immunity and down-regulation of humoral immunity.