Published online Dec 28, 2008. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.7321
Revised: November 24, 2008
Accepted: December 1, 2008
Published online: December 28, 2008
AIM: To study the growth inhibitory and apoptotic effects of Scutellaria barbata D.Don (S. barbata) and to determine the underlying mechanism of its antitumor activity in mouse liver cancer cell line H22.
METHODS: Proliferation of H22 cells was examined by MTT assay. Cellular morphology of PC-2 cells was observed under fluorescence microscope and transmission electron microscope (EM). Mitochondrial transmembrane potential was determined under laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM) with rhodamine 123 staining. Flow cytometry was performed to analyze the cell cycle of H22 cells with propidium iodide staining. Protein level of cytochrome C and caspase-3 was measured by semi-quantitive RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. Activity of caspase-3 enzyme was measured by spectrofluorometry.
RESULTS: MTT assay showed that extracts from S. barbata (ESB) could inhibit the proliferation of H22 cells in a time-dependent manner. Among the various phases of cell cycle, the percentage of cells in S phase was significantly decreased, while the percentage of cells in G1 phase was increased. Flow cytometry assay also showed that ESB had a positive effect on apoptosis. Typical apoptotic morphologies such as condensation and fragmentation of nuclei and blebbing membrane of apoptotic cells could be observed under transmission electron microscope and fluorescence microscope. To further investige the molecular mechanism behind ESB-induced apoptosis, ESB-treated cells rapidly lost their mitochondrial transmembrane potential, released mitochondrial cytochrome C into cytosol, and induced caspase-3 activity in a dose-dependent manner.
CONCLUSION: ESB can effectively inhibit the proliferation and induce apoptosis of H22 cells involving loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, release of cytochrome C, and activation of caspase-3.