Diabetes Metab J.  2016 Oct;40(5):406-413. 10.4093/dmj.2016.40.5.406.

Rg3 Improves Mitochondrial Function and the Expression of Key Genes Involved in Mitochondrial Biogenesis in C2C12 Myotubes

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. kspark@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Korea Cancer Center Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Biomedical Sciences, Seoul National University Graduate School, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea.
  • 5Biomedical Research Institute and Innovative Research Institute for Cell Therapy, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Panax ginseng has glucose-lowering effects, some of which are associated with the improvement in insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Because mitochondria play a pivotal role in the insulin resistance of skeletal muscle, we investigated the effects of the ginsenoside Rg3, one of the active components of P. ginseng, on mitochondrial function and biogenesis in C2C12 myotubes.
C2C12 myotubes were treated with Rg3 for 24 hours. Insulin signaling pathway proteins were examined by Western blot. Cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels and the oxygen consumption rate were measured. The protein or mRNA levels of mitochondrial complexes were evaluated by Western blot and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis.
Rg3 treatment to C2C12 cells activated the insulin signaling pathway proteins, insulin receptor substrate-1 and Akt. Rg3 increased ATP production and the oxygen consumption rate, suggesting improved mitochondrial function. Rg3 increased the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α, nuclear respiratory factor 1, and mitochondrial transcription factor, which are transcription factors related to mitochondrial biogenesis. Subsequent increased expression of mitochondrial complex IV and V was also observed.
Our results suggest that Rg3 improves mitochondrial function and the expression of key genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis, leading to an improvement in insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Rg3 may have the potential to be developed as an anti-hyperglycemic agent.


Ginsenoside Rg3; Mitochondria; Panax

MeSH Terms

Adenosine Triphosphate
Blotting, Western
Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
Insulin Resistance
Muscle Fibers, Skeletal*
Muscle, Skeletal
Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1
Organelle Biogenesis*
Oxygen Consumption
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Reverse Transcription
RNA, Messenger
Transcription Factors
Adenosine Triphosphate
Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1
RNA, Messenger
Transcription Factors
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