In this study, we investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of red ginseng marc oil (RMO) in the RAW 264.7 macrophage cell line. RMO was prepared by a supercritical CO2
extraction of waste product generated after hot water extraction of red ginseng. RMO significantly inhibited the production of oxidative stress molecules such as nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated RAW 264.7 cells. Levels of inflammatory targets including prostaglandin E2, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6 were also reduced after the treatment with RMO. In addition, RMO diminished the expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase 2 at both mRNA and protein levels. Blockade of nuclear translocation of the p65 subunit of nuclear factor κB (NFκB) was also observed after the treatment of RMO. Furthermore, RMO decreased the phosphorylations of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and its upstream kinases including MAPK kinases 3/6 (MKK3/6) and TAK 1 (TGF-β activated kinase 1). Gas chromatographic analysis on RMO revealed that RMO contained about 10% phytosterols including sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol which may contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of RMO. Taken together, these results suggest that the anti-inflammatory effect of RMO in LPS-induced RAW 264.7 macrophages could be associated with the inhibition of NFκB transcriptional activity, possibly via blocking the p38 MAPK pathway.