|Ethyl acetate extract of Chinese medicinal herb Sarcandra glabra induces growth inhibition on human leukemic HL-60 cells, associated with cell cycle arrest and up-regulation of pro-apoptotic Bax/Bcl-2 ratio|
Authors: W. Y. Li, Lawrence C.M. Chiu, W. S. Lam, W. Y. Wong, Y. T. Chan, Y. P. Ho, Elaine Y.L. Wong, Y. S. Wong, Vincent E.C. Ooi
Department of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China
Sarcandra glabra (Thunb.) Nakai, colloquially known as Caoshanhu, is a Chinese medicinal herb with reported anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and non-specific immunoenhancing properties. Although the plant has been clinically used for treating a variety of diseases, its bioactive ingredients are largely unknown and its mode of action has never been investigated. In this study, the anti-tumor property of ethyl acetate (EA) extract of S. glabra was investigated by determining its in vitro growth-inhibitory effects on a panel of human cancer cell lines of different histotypes. Growth inhibition of the EA extract on the cancer cells seemed to be selective, and the leukemic HL-60 was found to be the most responsive after 48 h of treatment (IC50=58 µg/ml). Flow cytometric studies further illustrated that the extract might interfere with DNA replication and thus arrested the cell cycle at S phase in the leukemic cells, followed by DNA fragmentation and loss of phospholipid asymmetry in the plasma membrane after 72 h of treatment. Concurrently, the pro-apoptotic Bax/Bcl-2 ratio was also up-regulated by more than 178% of the control level. All these findings suggested that the extract had initiated apoptosis to kill the leukemic cells. Results from this pioneer study help to establish a scientific foundation for future research and development of the bioactive ingredients in EA extract of S. glabra as efficacious anti-cancer agents.