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Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2010 Mar;62(2):145-55. doi: 10.1016/j.etp.2009.03.003. Epub 2009 May 9.

Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) roots decrease proliferation and increase apoptosis but do not affect cell communication in murine hepatocarcinogenesis.

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Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) roots and/or its extracts have shown anti-neoplastic, chemopreventive, and anti-angiogenic properties. The aim of this work was to investigate the chemopreventive mechanisms of this root in mice submitted to the infant model of hepatocarcinogenesis, evaluating the effects on cellular proliferation, apoptosis, and intercellular communication. Fifteen-day-old BALB/c male mice were given, i.p., 10mug/g of the carcinogen N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN). Animals were separated into three groups at weaning and were given different concentrations of powdered P. paniculata root (0%, 2%, or 10%) added to commercial food for 27 weeks. Control group (CT) was not exposed to the carcinogen and was given ration without the root. After euthanasia, the animals' liver and body weight were measured. Liver fragments were sampled to study intercellular communication, molecular biology, and histopathological analysis. Cellular proliferation was evaluated by immunohistochemistry for PCNA, apoptosis was evaluated by apoptotic bodies count and alkaline comet technique, and intercellular communication by diffusion of lucifer yellow dye, immunofluorescence, western blot and real-time PCR for connexins 26 and 32. Chronic treatment with powdered P. paniculata root reduced cellular proliferation and increased apoptosis in the 2% group. Animals in the 10% group had an increase in apoptosis with chronic inflammatory process. Intercellular communication showed no alterations in any of the groups analyzed. These results indicate that chemopreventive effects of P. paniculata are related to the control of cellular proliferation and apoptosis, but not to cell communication and/or connexin expression, and are directly influenced by the root concentration.

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