Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. Angiogenesis inhibitors have been introduced for the treatment of cancer. Based on the fact that many anticancer agents have been developed from botanical sources, there is a significant untapped resource to be found in natural products. American ginseng is a commonly used herbal medicine in the U.S., which possesses antioxidant properties. After oral ingestion, natural ginseng saponins are biotransformed to their metabolites by the enteric microbiome before being absorbed. The major metabolites, ginsenoside Rg3 and compound K, showed significant potent anticancer activity compared to that of their parent ginsenosides Rb1, Rc, and Rd. In this review, the molecular mechanisms of ginseng metabolites on cancer chemoprevention, especially apoptosis and angiogenic inhibition, are discussed. Ginseng gut microbiome metabolites showed significant anti-angiogenic effects on pulmonary, gastric and ovarian cancers. This review suggests that in addition to the chemopreventive effects of ginseng compounds, as angiogenic inhibitors, ginsenoside metabolites could be used in combination with other cancer chemotherapeutic agents in cancer management.
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