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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity of mulberry (Morus alba L.) root bark

Hyun Ji Eo1, Jae Ho Park2, Gwang Hun Park1, Man Hyo Lee3, Jeong Rak Lee3, Jin Suk Koo14 and Jin Boo Jeong145*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Bioresource Sciences, Andong National University, Andong 760749, South Korea

2 Department of Medicinal Plant Science, Jungwon University, Goesan 367805, South Korea

3 Gyeongbuk Institute for Bio-industry, Andong 760380, South Korea

4 Insititute of Agricultural Science and Technology, Andong National University, Andong 760380, South Korea

5 Department of Medicinal Plant Resources, Andong National University, Andong 760380, South Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:200  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-200

Published: 25 June 2014



Root bark of mulberry (Morus alba L.) has been used in herbal medicine as anti-phlogistic, liver protective, kidney protective, hypotensive, diuretic, anti-cough and analgesic agent. However, the anti-cancer activity and the potential anti-cancer mechanisms of mulberry root bark have not been elucidated. We performed in vitro study to investigate whether mulberry root bark extract (MRBE) shows anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity.


In anti-inflammatory activity, NO was measured using the griess method. iNOS and proteins regulating NF-κB and ERK1/2 signaling were analyzed by Western blot. In anti-cancer activity, cell growth was measured by MTT assay. Cleaved PARP, ATF3 and cyclin D1 were analyzed by Western blot.


In anti-inflammatory effect, MRBE blocked NO production via suppressing iNOS over-expression in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. In addition, MRBE inhibited NF-κB activation through p65 nuclear translocation via blocking IκB-α degradation and ERK1/2 activation via its hyper-phosphorylation. In anti-cancer activity, MRBE deos-dependently induced cell growth arrest and apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells, SW480. MRBE treatment to SW480 cells activated ATF3 expression and down-regulated cyclin D1 level. We also observed that MRBE-induced ATF3 expression was dependent on ROS and GSK3β. Moreover, MRBE-induced cyclin D1 down-regulation was mediated from cyclin D1 proteasomal degradation, which was dependent on ROS.


These findings suggest that mulberry root bark exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity.

Morus alba L. Mulberry root bark; Medicinal plant; Anti-inflammation; Anti-cancer