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J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Jun;24(6):1096-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.08.008. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

20-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-20(S)-protopanaxadiol, a metabolite of ginseng, inhibits colon cancer growth by targeting TRPC channel-mediated calcium influx.

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  • 1WCU Biomodulation Program, Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-921, Republic of Korea.


Abnormal regulation of Ca(2+) mediates tumorigenesis and Ca(2+) channels are reportedly deregulated in cancers, indicating that regulating Ca(2+) signaling in cancer cells is considered as a promising strategy to treat cancer. However, little is known regarding the mechanism by which Ca(2+) affects cancer cell death. Here, we show that 20-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-20(S)-protopanaxadiol (20-GPPD), a metabolite of ginseng saponin, causes apoptosis of colon cancer cells through the induction of cytoplasmic Ca(2+). 20-GPPD decreased cell viability, increased annexin V-positive early apoptosis and induced sub-G1 accumulation and nuclear condensation of CT-26 murine colon cancer cells. Although 20-GPPD-induced activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) played a key role in the apoptotic death of CT-26 cells, LKB1, a well-known upstream kinase of AMPK, was not involved in this activation. To identify the upstream target of 20-GPPD for activating AMPK, we examined the effect of Ca(2+) on apoptosis of CT-26 cells. A calcium chelator recovered 20-GPPD-induced AMPK phosphorylation and CT-26 cell death. Confocal microscopy showed that 20-GPPD increased Ca(2+) entry into CT-26 cells, whereas a transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) blocker suppressed Ca(2+) entry. When cells were treated with a TRPC blocker plus an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium blocker, 20-GPPD-induced calcium influx was completely inhibited, suggesting that the ER calcium store, as well as TRPC, was involved. In vivo mouse CT-26 allografts showed that 20-GPPD significantly suppressed tumor growth, volume and weight in a dose-dependent manner. Collectively, 20-GPPD exerts potent anticarcinogenic effects on colon carcinogenesis by increasing Ca(2+) influx, mainly through TRPC channels, and by targeting AMPK.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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