1Laboratory of Veterinary Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, 2Applied Radiological Science Research Institute, Jeju National University, Jeju 690-756, 3Laboratory of Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, 4Laboratory of Radiation Immunology, Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences, Seoul 139-706, Korea
Ginsan, a Panax ginseng polysaccharide that contains glucopyranoside and fructofuranoside, has immunomodulatory effects. Although several biologic studies of ginsan have been performed, its effects on dendritic cells (DCs), which are antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, have not been studied. We investigated the immunomodulatory effects of ginsan on DCs. Ginsan had little effect on DC viability, even when used at high concentrations. Ginsan markedly increased the levels of production by DCs of IL-12 and TNF-Ձ, as measured by ELISA. To examine the maturation-inducing activity of ginsan, we measured the surface expression levels of the maturation markers MHC class II and CD86 (B7.2) on DCs. It is interesting that ginsan profoundly enhanced the expression of CD86 on DC surfaces, whereas it increased that of MHC class II only marginally. In 3H-thymidine incorporation assays, ginsan-treated DCs stimulated significantly higher proliferation of allogeneic CD4＋ T lymphocytes than did medium-treated DCs. Taken together, our data demonstrate that ginsan stimulates DCs by inducing maturation. Because DCs are critical antigen-presenting cells in immune responses, this study provides valuable information on the activities of ginsan.