An American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) extract (GE) that contained a quantifiable amount of ginsenosides was investigated for the potential to inhibit proliferation, affect the cell cycle, influence lipid acquisition and adiponectin expression in 3T3-L1 cells. Six fingerprint ginsenosides were quantified by high performance liquid chromatography and the respective molecular weights were confirmed by LC-ESI-MS analysis. The extract contained Rg1 (347.3 ± 99.7 μg g−1, dry weight), Re (8280.4 ± 792.3 μg g−1), Rb1 (1585.8 ± 86.8 μg g−1), Rc (32.9 ± 8 μg g−1), Rb2 (62.6 ± 10.6 μg g−1) and Rd (90.4 ± 3.2 μg g−1). The GE had a dose-dependent effect on 3T3-L1 cell growth, the LC50 value was determined to be 40.3 ± 5 μg ml−1. Cell cycle analysis showed modest changes in the cell cycle. No significant changes observed in both G1 and G2/M phases, however there was a significant decrease (P < .05) in the S phase after 24 and 48 h treatment. Apoptotic cells were modest but significantly (P < .05) increased after 48 h (3.2 ± 1.0%) compared to untreated control cells (1.5 ± 0.1%). Lipid acquisition was significantly reduced (P < .05) by 13 and 22% when treated at concentrations of 20.2 and 40.3 μg ml−1 compared to untreated control cells. In relation to adiponectin activation, western blot analysis showed that the protein expression was significantly (P < .05) increased at concentrations tested. A quantified GE reduced the growth of 3T3-L1 cells, down-regulated the accumulation of lipid and up-regulated the expression of adiponectin in the 3T3-L1 adipocyte cell model
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