Anti-proliferation and apoptosis induced by a novel intestinal metabolite of ginseng saponin in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Cell Biol Int. 2007 Oct;31(10):1265-73. doi: 10.1016/j.cellbi.2007.05.005. Epub 2007 May 21.


20-O-(beta-D-glucopyranosyl)-20(S)-protopanaxadiol (IH-901), a novel intestinal bacterial metabolite of ginseng protopanaxadiol saponins, is reported to induce apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells. We purified the compound and measured its in vitro anti-tumor activity. IH-901 inhibited cell growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma SMMC7721 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. We also found that IH-901 induced apoptotic cell death concurrent with cell cycle arrest in G0-G1 phase in SMMC7721 cells. At the molecular level, we show that IH-901 upregulates cytochrome c, p53, and Bax expression, and downregulates pro-caspase-3 and pro-caspase-9 expressions in a dose-dependent manner, while the levels of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) were unchanged in IH-901-treated SMMC7721 cells. These results provide significant insight into the anticarcinogenic action of IH-901.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Caspase 9 / metabolism
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Sapogenins / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism
  • bcl-X Protein / metabolism


  • 20-O-(beta-D-glucopyranosyl)-20(S)-protopanaxadiol
  • BAX protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Sapogenins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • bcl-X Protein
  • Cytochromes c
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases