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J BUON. 2019 Nov-Dec;24(6):2442-2447.

Xanthohumol chalcone acts as a powerful inhibitor of carcinogenesis in drug-resistant human colon carcinoma and these effects are mediated via G2/M phase cell cycle arrest, activation of apoptotic pathways, caspase activation and targeting Ras /MEK/ERK pathway.

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Fifth Department of General Surgery, the Second Hospital of Lanzhou University, No.82 Cuiyingmen, Chennguan District, Lanzhou, 730030, Gan Su province, China.



Xanthohumol is a prenylated flavonoid of plant origin and has been reported to exhibit a spectrum of pharmacological properties including anticancer effects. However, the anticancer properties of Xanthohumol have not been thoroughly evaluated against drug-resistant colon cancer cells. This study was undertaken to evaluate the anticancer effects of Xanthohumol against the human colon cancer cell line HT-29 and normal CDD-18Co cell line.


HT-29 cell viability was evaluated by cell counting kit-8 (CCK8) assay. Apoptotic effects were examined by fluorescence microscopy using DAPI staining and flow cytometry using annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) staining. Effects on cell cycle were studied by flow cytometry while western blot analysis was done to study effects on protein expressions.


The results showed that Xanthohumol causes a dramatic decrease in the HT-29 cell viability with an IC50 of 10 µM. However, an IC50 >100 µM for Xanthohumol against the normal CDD-18Co cells suggested cancer cell specific activity. DAPI staining revealed nuclear fragmentation, suggesting xanthohumol induces apoptosis in HT-29 cells. Xanthohumol also caused activation of caspase-3 and 9 and increased the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. Cell cycle analysis showed that this molecule caused arrest of the HT-29 cells at the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. The induction of G2/M cell cycle was also accompanied with depletion of the expression of cyclin B1. The effects of Xanthohumol were also investigated on the Ras/MEK/ERK signalling pathway which revealed that Xanthohumol also blocks the MEK/ERK signalling pathway in colon cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner.


Xanthohumol may prove an efficient lead molecule for the development of more potent anticancer agents through semi-synthetic approaches.

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