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Oncol Lett. 2013 Apr;5(4):1171-1176. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

Huaier aqueous extract inhibits colorectal cancer stem cell growth partially via downregulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.

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1
Cancer Institute (Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Intervention, National Ministry of Education, Provincial Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Medical Sciences), Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310009, P.R. China ; Preventive and Health Care, Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310009, P.R. China.

Abstract

The existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is central to the pathogenesis and therapy resistance of colorectal cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether Huaier aqueous extract, a Chinese medicine, has efficacy against CSCs and to investigate the mechanisms of its anticancer effects. It was observed that the Huaier extract significantly inhibited the spheroid formation potential (P<0.05) and decreased the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-positive cell population in colorectal primary cancer cells (P<0.05). Western blotting analysis and Wnt/β-catenin reporter assays revealed that the Huaier extract downregulated the Wnt/β-catenin self-renewal pathway. This is the first study to demonstrate that Huaier aqueous extract acts as an effective agent for eradicating colorectal CSCs and identifies the Wnt/β-catenin pathway as its potential target, which may be a new approach for colorectal cancer therapy.

KEYWORDS:

Huaier aqueous extract; antitumor activity; cancer stem cells; colorectal cancer

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