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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(18):7527-32.

Anticancer potential of an ethanol extract of Saussurea involucrata against hepatic cancer cells in vitro.

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Division of Animal Life and Environmental Science, Hankyong National University, Anseong, Republic of Korea E-mail :


Saussurea involucrata is a Mongolian medicinal plant well known for its effects in promoting blood circulation, and anti-inflammation and analgesic functions. Earlier studies reported that Saussurea involucrata has anti- cancer activity. The purpose of this study was to confirm the anticancer activity of an ethanol extract of Saussurea involucrata against hepatic cancer and elucidate its mechanisms of action. Hepatocellular carcinoma cells were tested in vitro for cytotoxicity, AO/EB staining for apoptotic cells, apoptotic DNA fragmentation and cell cycle distribution in response to Saussurea involucrata extract (SIE). The mRNA expression of caspase-3,-9 and Cdk2 and protein expression of caspase-3,-9, PARP, XIAP, Cdk2 and p21 were analyzed through real time PCR and Western blotting. Treatment with SIE inhibited HepG2 cell proliferation dose- and time-dependently, but SIE only exerted a modest cytotoxic effect on a viability of Chang human liver cells. Cells exposed to SIE showed typical hallmarks of apoptotic cell death. Cell cycle analysis revealed that SIE caused G1-phase arrest in HepG2 cells. In conclusion, Saussurea involucrata ethanol extract has potential cytotoxic and apoptotic effects on human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Its mechanism of action might be associated with the inhibition of DNA synthesis, cell cycle (G1) arrest and apoptosis induction through up-regulation of the protein expressions of caspase-3,-9 and p21, degradation of PARP and down-regulation of the protein expression of Cdk2 and XIAP.

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