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Open Access Research article

Crude aqueous extracts of Pluchea indica (L.) Less. inhibit proliferation and migration of cancer cells through induction of p53-dependent cell death

Jonathan J Cho1, Chung-Lung Cho2*, Chiu-Li Kao23, Chien-Ming Chen2, Chao-Neng Tseng4, Ya-Zhe Lee2, Li-Jen Liao5 and Yi-Ren Hong6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 12180, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

3 Tzu Hui Institute of Technology, Pingtung County, Taiwan

4 Graduate Institute of Natural Products, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

5 Department of Biotechnology, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

6 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:265  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-265

Published: 26 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Pluchea indica (L.) Less. (Asteraceae) is a perennial shrub plant with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant medicinal properties. However, the anti-cancer properties of its aqueous extracts have not been studied. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-proliferation, anti-migration, and pro-apoptotic properties of crude aqueous extracts of P. indica leaf and root on human malignant glioma cancer cells and human cervical cancer cells, and the underlying molecular mechanism.

Methods

GBM8401 human glioma cells and HeLa cervical carcinoma cells were treated with various concentrations of crude aqueous extracts of P. indica leaf and root and cancer cell proliferation and viability were measured by cell growth curves, trypan blue exclusions, and the tetrazolium reduction assay. Effects of the crude aqueous extracts on focus formation, migration, and apoptosis of cancer cells were studied as well. The molecular mechanism that contributed to the anti-cancer activities of crude aqueous extracts of P. indica root was also examined using Western blotting analysis.

Results

Crude aqueous extracts of P. indica leaf and root suppressed proliferation, viability, and migration of GBM8401 and HeLa cells. Treatment with crude aqueous extracts of P. indica leaf and root for 48 hours resulted in a significant 75% and 70% inhibition on proliferation and viability of GBM8401 and HeLa cancer cells, respectively. Crude aqueous extracts of P. indica root inhibited focus formation and promoted apoptosis of HeLa cells. It was found that phosphorylated-p53 and p21 were induced in GBM8401 and HeLa cells treated with crude aqueous extracts of P. indica root. Expression of phosphorylated-AKT was decreased in HeLa cells treated with crude aqueous extracts of P. indica root.

Conclusion

The in vitro anti-cancer effects of crude aqueous extracts of P. indica leaf and root indicate that it has sufficient potential to warrant further examination and development as a new anti-cancer agent.

Keywords:
Pluchea indica (L.) Less; Crude aqueous extracts; Cancer; p53; p21; Cell growth arrest; Apoptosis