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Open Access Research article

Anti-cancer effects of grailsine-al-glycoside isolated from Rhizoma Sparganii

Jun-Wu Zhang12 and Ya-Hui Wei1*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, College of Life Science, Northwest University, 229 Taibai Road (N), Xi’an 710069, P.R. China

2 College of Pharmacy, Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine, Xianyang 712046, P.R. China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:82  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-82

Published: 3 March 2014



An embryonic toxicity of Rhizoma sparganii was observed in mice. This study was aimed to evaluate the anticancer effects of Grailsine-Al-glycoside, the bioactive component of Rhizoma sparganii, on estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) cancer cell lines.


After A549, HeLa, HepG-2 and MCF-7 cells were treated with Grailsine-Al-glycoside, cell proliferation was analyzed by MTT, cell cycle and apoptosis by flow cytometry, and morphology with an immunofluorescence microscope.


Grailsine-Al-glycoside strongly suppressed cell proliferation in a dose-dependent fashion in A549, MCF-7, HepG2, and HeLa cells, though this growth inhibitory effect on HepG2 cells was not as strong and long lasting. Compared to the control, Grailsine-Al-glycoside caused a significant increase of apoptosis in A549, MCF-7 and Hela cells. A549 and MCF-7 cells were arrested at the G2/S phase whereas HepG2 cells were arrested at the G1 phase by a high concentration of Grailsine-Al-glycoside . Cell shapes were also changed by the presence of Grailsine-Al-glycoside.


Grailsine-Al-glycoside from Rhizoma sparganii inhibited the proliferation of ER+ and some ER- cancer cells. Grailsine-Al-glycoside may be used as a chemotherapeutic agent against ER+ and ERRα-expressing ER- cancers.

Grailsine-Al-glycoside; Rhizoma sparganii; Estrogen receptor-positive; Estrogen-related receptor alpha