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Pancreas. 2010 Aug;39(6):923-9. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0b013e3181ce719e.

Inhibition of pancreatic cancer cell growth by cucurbitacin B through modulation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 signaling.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, China Medical University, 92 Bei'er Rd, Shenyang 110001, China.



Pancreatic cancer is a serious disease worldwide for its high mortality. Gemcitabine has become the frontline option for the treatment of this disease since its approval. However, resistance to the drug has been on the rise in recent years. Searching for other chemotherapeutic agents therefore has attracted much attention. Cucurbitacin B (CuB) is a member of the triterpenoid family and has shown inhibitory effect on various cancer cells. In this study, we have assessed the effect of CuB on pancreatic cancer cells.


The growth of human pancreatic cancer cells (PANC-1) was monitored using a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay. Cell cycle distribution and apoptosis were evaluated with fluorescence-activated cell sorter and fluorescent microscopy. Western blot was used to determine the expression of relevant genes including phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (pSTAT3), STAT3, p53, p21, Bcl-2, survivin, and caspase 3.


Our results showed that CuB can inhibit the growth of PANC-1 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner, resulting in accumulation of G2/M phase cells and apoptosis. Furthermore, CuB treatment inhibited STAT3 phosphorylation, activated caspase 3, up-regulated the expression of p53 and p21, and down-regulated the expression of Bcl-2 and survivin.


Our results suggested that CuB may provide an effective regimen for the treatment of pancreatic cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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