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Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009 Jul;28(1):97-103. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Reactive oxygen species production and Bax/Bcl-2 regulation in honokiol-induced apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma SMMC-7721 cells.

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Department of Biological Science and Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China.


We investigated possible mechanism(s) where honokiol induces apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma SMMC-7721 cells. MTT assay showed that honokiol has strong inhibition on SMMC-7721 cells in a dose-dependent manner. SMMC-7721 cells after honokiol treatment display morphological characteristics such as cell shrinkage, detachment from the culture plate, formation of apoptotic bodies, change to a round shape, and marked nuclear condensation and fragmentation after 32258 staining. Cell apoptosis was measured by Annexin-V/PI staining and alternatively, by the subG0/G1 percentage of the cell cycle analysis followed by FACS. An obvious loss of ΔΨ(m) and a quick burst of ROS was detected when honokiol reached 4μg/ml, which was coincident with the high apoptosis percentage in our previous research. Up-regulation of Bax and down-regulation of Bcl-2 were observed, suggesting that honokiol-induced apoptosis was associated with reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and an increase of Bax/Bcl-2 ratios.


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