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Phytother Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):1507-12. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4604. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

A novel triterpene extract from mistletoe induces rapid apoptosis in murine B16.F10 melanoma cells.

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Department of Dermatology, University Freiburg-Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany.


The European mistletoe Viscum album L. is a plant used for remedies in cancer treatment. The benefit of commonly used aqueous extracts is controversial but the plant contains water insoluble triterpene acids providing interesting anticancer properties. Triterpene extracts (TE) from plants and single triterpenoids such as oleanolic acid (OA) or betulinic acid (BA) are known for their cytotoxic effects on cancer cell lines in vitro. We report here cytotoxic effects of a novel OA-rich triterpene extract from mistletoe (V. album L., Santalaceae) solubilized by 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (2-HP-β-CD) on B16.F10 mouse melanoma cells. The 2-HP-β-CD solubilized triterpene extract (STE) was highly cytotoxic by causing DNA fragmentation, followed by loss of membrane integrity and intracellular adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP). Blocking the caspase machinery by inhibitors aborted DNA fragmentation and delayed the cytotoxic effects but did not prevent cell death. The solubilization by 2-HP-β-CD allows a solvent-free application of triterpene extracts in the in vitro setting. These findings suggest the use of STE from mistletoe as a solvent-free anticancer drug for preclinical animal experiments and clinical trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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