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World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Mar 14;14(10):1504-9.

Apoptosis of human pancreatic cancer cells induced by Triptolide.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University, Nantong 226001, Jiangsu Province, China.



To investigate apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells induced by Triptolide (TL), and the relationship between this apoptosis and expression of caspase-3' bcl-2 and bax.


Human pancreatic cancer cell line SW1990 was cultured in DMEM media for this study. MTT assay was used to determine the cell growth inhibitory rate in vitro. Flow cytometry and TUNEL assay were used to detect the apoptosis of human pancreatic cancer cells before and after TL treatment. RT-PCR was used to detect the expression of apoptosis-associated gene caspase-3' bcl-2 and bax.


TL inhibited the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells in a dose-and time-dependent manner. TL induced human pancreatic cancer cells to undergo apoptosis with typically apoptotic characteristics. TUNEL assay showed that after the treatment of human pancreatic cancer cells with 40 ng/mL TL for 12 h and 24 h, the apoptotic rates of human pancreatic cancer cells increased significantly. RT-PCR demonstrated that caspase-3 and bax were significantly up-regulated in SW1990 cells treated with TL while bcl-2 mRNA was not.


TL is able to induce the apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells. This apoptosis may be mediated by up-regulating the expression of apoptosis-associated caspase-3 and bax gene.

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