Ginseng ameliorates exercise-induced fatigue potentially by regulating the gut microbiota

Shan Shan Zhou, Jing Zhou, Jin Di Xu, Hong Shen, Ming Kong, Ka Man Yip, Quan Bin Han, Zhong Zhen Zhao, Jun Xu*, Hu Biao Chen*, Song Lin Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The therapeutic effects of water extract of ginseng (WEG) on exercise-induced fatigue (EF) have been reported in several previous studies, but the molecular mechanisms involved remain unexplored. In this study, the anti-EF effects of WEG were studied, and the potential mechanisms were discussed. We characterized the chemical components of WEG by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QqQ-MS/MS) and high performance liquid chromatography coupled with evaporative light scattering detection (HPLC-ELSD), and then examined the anti-EF effects of WEG on a rat model of weight-loaded swimming with a focus on endogenous metabolism and gut microbiota. WEG contains abundant (90.15%, w/w) saccharides and ginsenosides with structurally diverse glycosyls. WEG taken orally showed strong anti-EF effects by ameliorating energy metabolism abnormality, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, inflammatory response, disorders in the metabolism of bile acid, amino acid, fatty acid and lipid, as well as the gut microbiota dysbiosis. Given that gut microbiota is significantly associated with energy expenditure, systemic inflammation and host metabolism, these findings suggest a potential central role of the gut microbiota in mediating the anti-EF effect of WEG. That is, the saccharides and ginsenosides in WEG serve as energy substrates for specific intestinal bacteria, thereby beneficially regulating the gut microbiota, and the reshaped gut microbial ecosystem then triggers several molecular and cellular signaling pathways (e.g. butyrate or TGR5 signals) to achieve the therapeutic effects on EF. The outcomes highlighted here enable deeper insight into how WEG overcomes EF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3954-3964
Number of pages11
JournalFood and Function
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Food Science


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