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Int J Oncol. 2014 Jul;45(1):209-18. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2014.2397. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Extract of Cordyceps militaris inhibits angiogenesis and suppresses tumor growth of human malignant melanoma cells.

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Department of Cell Biology, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, Okayama 700-8558, Japan.
Division of Oncological Pathology, Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8681, Japan.
Faculty of Science and Technology, Division of Molecular Science, Gunma University, Kiryu, Gunma 376-8515, Japan.
CAITAC Corporation, Kita-ku, Okayama 700-8586, Japan.


Angiogenesis is essential for tumor development and metastasis. Among several angiogenic factors, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF) is important for tumor-derived angiogenesis and commonly overexpressed in solid tumors. Thus, many antitumor strategies targeting VEGF have been developed to inhibit cancer angiogenesis, offering insights into the successful treatment of solid cancers. However, there are a number of issues such as harmful effects on normal vascularity in clinical trials. Taking this into consideration, we employed Cordyceps militaris as an antitumor approach due to its biological safety in vivo. The herbal medicinal mushroom Cordyceps militaris has been reported to show potential anticancer properties including anti-angiogenic capacity; however, its concrete properties have yet to be fully demonstrated. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the biological role of Cordyceps militaris extract in tumor cells, especially in regulating angiogenesis and tumor growth of a human malignant melanoma cell line. We demonstrated that Cordyceps militaris extract remarkably suppressed tumor growth via induction of apoptotic cell death in culture that links to the abrogation of VEGF production in melanoma cells. This was followed by mitigation of Akt1 and GSK-3β activation, while p38α phosphorylation levels were increased. Extract treatment in mouse model xenografted with human melanoma cells resulted in a dramatic antitumor effect with down-regulation of VEGF expression. The results suggest that suppression of tumor growth by Cordyceps militaris extract is, at least, mediated by its anti-angiogenicity and apoptosis induction capacities. Cordyceps militaris extract may be a potent antitumor herbal drug for solid tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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