Induction of apoptosis by Uncaria tomentosa through reactive oxygen species production, cytochrome c release, and caspases activation in human leukemia cells

An-Chin Cheng, Cheng-Bang Jian, Yu-Ting Huang, Ching-Shu Lai, Ping-Chi Hsu, Min-Hsiung Pan
Food and Chemical Toxicology 2007, 45 (11): 2206-18
Uncaria tomentosa (Wild.) DC., found in the Amazon rain forest in South-America and known commonly as cat's claw, has been used in traditional medicine to prevent and treat inflammation and cancer. Recently, it has been found to possess potent anti-inflammation activities. In this study, we extracted cat's claw using four different solvents of different polarities and compared their relative influence on proliferation in human premyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cell lines. Cat's claw n-hexane extracts (CC-H), ethyl acetate extracts (CC-EA) and n-butanol extracts (CC-B) had a greater anti-cancer effect on HL-60 cells than those extracted with methanol (CC-M). Furthermore, CC-EA induced DNA fragmentation in HL-60 cells in a clearly more a concentration- and time-dependent manner than the other extracts. CC-EA-induced cell death was characterized by cell body shrinkage and chromatin condensation. Further investigating the molecular mechanism behind CC-EA-induced apoptosis, sells treated with CC-EA underwent a rapid loss of mitochondrial transmembrane (DeltaPsi(m)) potential, stimulation of phosphatidylserine flip-flop, release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into cytosol, induction of caspase-3 activity in a time-dependent manner, and induced the cleavage of DNA fragmentation factor (DFF-45) and PARP poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). CC-EA promoted the up-regulation of Fas before the processing and activation of procaspase-8 and cleavage of Bid. In addition, the apoptosis induced by CC-EA was accompanied by up-regulation of Bax, down-regulation of Bcl-X(L) and cleavage of Mcl-1, suggesting that CC-EA may have some compounds that have anti-cancer activities and that further studies using cat's claw extracts need to be pursued. Taken together, the results of our studies show clearly that CC-EA's induction of apoptosis in HL-60 cells may make it very important in the development of medicine that can trigger chemopreventive actions in the body.

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