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Onco Targets Ther. 2019 Feb 12;12:1161-1170. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S185953. eCollection 2019.

High-intensity focused ultrasound enhances the effect of bufalin by inducing apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells.

Ning Z1,2, Zhu Z1,2, Wang H1,3, Zhang C1,2, Xu L1,2, Zhuang L1,2, Yan X1,2, Wang D1,2, Wang P1,2, Meng Z1,2.

Author information

Department of Integrative Oncology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai, China,
Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China,
Department of Radiotherapy, Shandong Cancer Hospital, Shandong, China.



High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has the potential to be an effective therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer (PC). However, owing to the high malignancy and poor prognosis of PC, the use of HIFU therapy alone is not sufficient to impair the progression of PC. Bufalin, a compound extracted from traditional medicine, is known to inhibit the growth and progression of PC cells. However, the effect of the combination therapy of HIFU plus bufalin (HIFU+bufalin) is still uncertain.

Materials and methods:

A colony formation assay and flow cytometry were performed to measure the growth and induction of apoptosis in PC cells. Western blotting was used to explore the potential mechanism of HIFU and bufalin therapy. The in vivo efficacy of HIFU+bufalin was tested in a MiaPaCa2 xenograft model.


Bufalin inhibited the growth of PC cells more obviously compared to HIFU. Combining bufalin with HIFU further decreased the growth of MiaPaCa2 cells compared with single therapy in vitro. Flow cytometry results showed that the percentage of surviving MiaPaCa2 cells in the bufalin-treated group and the HIFU-treated group was approximately three-fold and two-fold higher than in the HIFU+bufalin-treated group. Contrasting results were found in Panc-1 cells. Biochemical analysis revealed that HIFU+bufalin treatment elevated PARP expression and increased caspase-8 activation in MiaPaCa2 and Panc-1 cells. HIFU+bufalin significantly reduced the growth of MiaPaCa2 tumors compared with HIFU or bufalin treatment alone. HIFU+bufalin treatment decreased Ki67 staining and increased activated caspase-3 and caspase 8 staining, when compared with HIFU or bufalin treatment alone in mouse tumors.


HIFU enhanced the effect of bufailn by inducing apoptosis in PC cells. A combination of HIFU and bufalin may be employed as an alternative therapeutic strategy for PC.


apoptosis; bufalin; extracorporeal shockwave therapy; pancreatic neoplasms

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