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Tumour Biol. 2016 Apr;37(4):5239-45. doi: 10.1007/s13277-015-4338-6. Epub 2015 Nov 10.

A polysaccharide from pumpkin induces apoptosis of HepG2 cells by activation of mitochondrial pathway.

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Department of Oncology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150086, China.
Department of Allergy, The First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150001, China.
Department of Oncology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150081, China.


Purified white polysaccharide (PPW) is a homogenous polysaccharide isolated from pumpkin, with an average molecular weight of 34 kDa. In this study, we aimed at examining the anti-proliferative activity of PPW against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) HepG2 cells and the underlying mechanisms. We found that PPW-induced inhibition of cell proliferation in HepG2 cells was associated with the induction of apoptosis. Exposure of HepG2 cells to PPW (100, 200, and 400 μg/mL) resulted in a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytosol. Also, Western blot analysis revealed dose-dependent increase of pro-apoptotic Bax protein and decrease of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein in PPW-treated cells. Besides, caspase-9 and caspase-3 activities were also enhanced in HepG2 cells followed by PPW treatment. Additionally, the cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) was observed in PPW-treated HepG2 cells, which altogether account for apoptotic cell death. These results suggested that PPW-induced apoptosis involved a caspase-3-mediated mitochondrial pathway and may have potential as a cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic agent for the prevention and treatment of HCC.


Apoptosis; Hepatoma; Mitochondria; Polysaccharide; Pumpkin; Purification

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