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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1749-8546-9-12) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
NW conceived and designed the study. AN performed the experiments and statistical analysis. NW and AN wrote the manuscript. SB reviewed the literature, revised the manuscript and coordinated the study. All the authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Cratoxylum formosum (Jack) Dyer ssp. pruniflorum (Kurz) Gogel. (Hóng yá mù) (CF) has been used for treatment of fever, cough, and peptic ulcer. Previously, a 50% ethanol-water extract from twigs of CF was shown highly selective in cytotoxicity against cancer cells. This study aims to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the apoptosis-inducing effect of CF.
The cytotoxicity of CF was evaluated in the human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) HepG2 cell line in comparison with a non-cancerous African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line (Vero) by a neutral red assay. The apoptosis induction mechanisms were investigated through nuclear morphological changes, DNA fragmentation, mitochondrial membrane potential alterations, and caspase enzyme activities.
CF selectively induced HepG2 cell death compared with non-cancerous Vero cells. A 1.5-fold higher apoptotic effect compared with melphalan was induced by 120 μg/mL of the 50% ethanol-water extract of CF. The apoptotic cell death in HepG2 cells occurred via extrinsic and intrinsic caspase-dependent pathways in dose- and time-dependent manners by significantly increasing the activities of caspase 3/7, 8, and 9, decreasing the mitochondrial membrane potential, and causing apoptotic body formation and DNA fragmentation.
CF extract induced a caspase-dependent apoptosis in HepG2 cells.