Objective: To investigate the potentiated effects of total saponins of Panax Ginseng (TSPG) on inhibition of leukemic progenitor cells by cytotoxic drugs in acute myelocytic leukemia.
Methods: Using bone marrow culture of colony forming unite-acute myeloid leukemia (CFU-AML) method, the sensitivity of leukemic cells obtained from 18 patients to homoharringtonin (HHr), cytarabine (Ara), adriamycin (Adr) and etoposide (VP-16) were detected separately.
Results: TSPG alone (20 micrograms/ml) could stimulate proliferation of CFU-AML obviously, and increase the colony numbers by 37.98% over the non-TSPG control (P < 0.01). In the presence of TSPG, the inhibition rates of CFU-AML of HHr, Ara, Adr and VP-16 were 51.2%-62.0% respectively, which were significantly higher than 30.4%-47.4% of non-TSPG control (all P < 0.01). In the combination of TSPG with cytotoxic drugs, the leukemic progenitor cells became more sensitive to cytotoxic drugs, CFU-AML colony numbers at 1.84-2.23 fold as more as those of non-TSPG control were inhibited by HHr, Ara, Adr and VP-16. Sensitivity test of 17 among 72 drugs reversed from resistant (suppression rate less than 30%) to sensitive (suppression rate more than 30%) by TSPG.
Conclusions: TSPG could drive non-cycling leukemic progenitors to enter cell cycle, and thereby enhance their susceptibility to cytotoxic drugs.