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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Suppression of urinary bladder urothelial carcinoma cell by the ethanol extract of pomegranate fruit through cell cycle arrest and apoptosis

Song-Tay Lee1, Min-Hua Lu1, Lan-Hsiang Chien1, Ting-Feng Wu1*, Li-Chien Huang1 and Gwo-Ing Liao2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biotechnology, Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Nan-Tai Street, Tainan, Yung-Kung District 710, Taiwan

2 Department of Life Sciences, University Road, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:364  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-364

Published: 21 December 2013



Pomegranate possesses many medicinal properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammation and antitumor. It has been extensively used as a folk medicine by many cultures. Pomegranate fruit has been shown to have the inhibitory efficacy against prostate cancer and lung cancer in vitro and in vivo. It can be exploited in chemoprevention and chemotherapy of prostate cancer. In this study we examined the anti-cancer efficacy of pomegranate fruit grown in Taiwan against urinary bladder urothelial carcinoma (UBUC) and its mechanism of action.


Edible portion of Taiwanese pomegranate was extracted using ethanol and the anti-cancer effectiveness of ethanol extract was evaluated by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. Flow cytometry and western immunoblotting were exploited to uncover the molecular pathways underlying anti-UBUC activity of Taiwanese pomegranate ethanol extract.


This study demonstrated that Taiwanese pomegranate fruit ethanol extract (PEE) could effectively restrict the proliferation of UBUC T24 and J82 cells. Cell cycle analyses indicated that the S phase arrest induced by PEE treatment might be caused by an increase in cyclin A protein level and a decrease in the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase 1. The results of western immunoblotting demonstrated that PEE treatment could not only evoke the activation of pro-caspase-3, -8,-9 but also increase Bax/Bcl-2 ratio in T24 cells. The above observations implicated that PEE administration might trigger the apoptosis in T24 cells through death receptor signaling and mitochondrial damage pathway. Besides we found that PEE exposure to T24 cells could provoke intensive activation of procaspase-12 and enhance the expressions of CHOP and Bip, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress marker, suggesting that ER stress might be the cardinal apoptotic mechanism of PEE-induced inhibition of bladder cancer cell.


The analytical results of this study help to provide insight into the molecular mechanism of induced bladder cancer cell apoptosis by pomegranate and to develop novel mechanism-based chemopreventive strategy for bladder cancer.