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J Int Med Res. 2007 Sep-Oct;35(5):637-43.

The effect of triptolide on apoptosis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells.

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College of Life Science and Biotechnology, Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China.


Triptolide, derived from the traditional Chinese herb, Tripterygium wilfordii, sensitizes cancer cells to apoptosis. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which accounts for most cases of central nervous malignancy, has a very poor prognosis and lacks effective therapeutic inventions. We, therefore, investigated the effects of different concentrations of, and different periods of exposure to, triptolide on cell proliferation and apoptosis in the glioma cell lines, U251MG and U87MG, and in normal human fetal astrocytes. Cell proliferation was investigated by MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide) assay and growth curve analysis, and apoptosis was assessed from genomic DNA fragmentation. Triptolide showed dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis in glioma cells. It also increased the ratio of the pro-apoptotic protein, Bax, to the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-2. Since U87MG has the wild-type p53 gene whereas U251MG harbours a mutated p53 gene, our results indicate that triptolide induces apoptosis in GBM cells via a p53-independent pathway. The dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis by triptolide may involve upregulation of Bax and downregulation of Bcl-2.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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