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Cancer Lett. 2009 Jan 8;273(1):44-54. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.07.033. Epub 2008 Sep 14.

Maslinic acid, a natural triterpene from Olea europaea L., induces apoptosis in HT29 human colon-cancer cells via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada, Campus Fuentenueva s/n, 18071 Granada, Spain.


We have investigated the mechanisms of maslinic acid with regard to its inhibitory effects on the growth of HT29 colon-cancer cells. High concentrations of maslinic acid are present in the protective wax-like coating of olives. Our results show that treatment with maslinic acid results in a significant inhibition of cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner and causes apoptotic death in colon-cancer cells. We found that it inhibits considerably the expression of Bcl-2 whilst increasing that of Bax; it also stimulates the release of mitochondrial cytochrome-c and activates caspase-9 and caspase-3. All these results point clearly to the activation of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in response to the treatment of HT29 colon-cancer cells with maslinic acid. Our results suggest that maslinic acid has the potential to provide significant natural defence against colon-cancer.

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