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Int J Cancer. 2016 Mar 15;138(6):1432-41. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29879. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Panaxydol, a component of Panax ginseng, induces apoptosis in cancer cells through EGFR activation and ER stress and inhibits tumor growth in mouse models.

Kim HS1,2, Lim JM1,2, Kim JY1,2, Kim Y1,2, Park S1,2, Sohn J1,2.

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Department of Biochemisty, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Korea Institute of Molecular Medicine and Nutrition, Seoul, Korea.


We reported previously that panaxydol, a component of Panax ginseng roots, induced mitochondria-mediated apoptosis preferentially in transformed cells. This study demonstrates that EGFR activation and the resulting ER stress mediate panaxydol-induced apoptosis, and that panaxydol suppresses in vivo tumor growth in syngeneic and xenogeneic mouse tumor models. In addition, we elucidated that CaMKII and TGF-β-activated kinase (TAK1) participate in p38/JNK activation by elevated cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)]c). In MCF-7 cells, EGFR was activated immediately after exposure to panaxydol, and this activation was necessary for induction of apoptosis, suggesting that panaxydol might be a promising anticancer candidate, especially for EGFR-addicted cancer. Activation of PLCγ followed EGFR activation, resulting in Ca(2+) release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) via inositol triphosphate and ryanodine receptors. ER Ca(2+) release triggered mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake indirectly through oxidative stress and ensuing ER stress. Elevated [Ca(2+)]c triggered sequential activation of calmodulin/CaMKII, TAK1 and p38/JNK. As shown previously, p38 and JNK activate NADPH oxidase. Here, it was shown that the resulting oxidative stress triggered ER stress. Among the three signaling branches of the unfolded protein response, protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK), but not inositol-requiring enzyme 1 or activating transcription factor 6, played a role in transmitting the apoptosis signal. PERK induced C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), and CHOP elevated Bim expression, initiating mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake and apoptosis. In summary, we identified roles of EGFR, the CAMKII-TAK1-p38/JNK pathway, and ER stress in panaxydol-induced apoptosis and demonstrated the in vivo anticancer effect of panaxydol.


CaMKII; EGFR; ER stress; NADPH oxidase; PERK; Panax ginseng; TAK1; calcium; panaxydol

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