Anticancer effects of wogonin in both estrogen receptor-positive and -negative human breast cancer cell lines in vitro and in nude mice xenografts

Int J Cancer. 2008 Feb 15;122(4):816-22. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23182.


Wogonin is a plant monoflavonoid which has been reported to inhibit cell growth and/or induce apoptosis in various tumors. Herein, we investigated the in vitro and in vivo anticancer effects and associated mechanisms of wogonin in human breast cancer. Effects of wogonin were examined in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and -negative human breast cancer cells in culture for proliferation, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis. The in vivo effect of oral wogonin was examined on tumor xenograft growth in athymic nude mice. The molecular changes associated with the biological effects of wogonin were analyzed by immunoblotting. Cell growth was attenuated by wogonin (50-200 microM), independently of its ER status, in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Apoptosis was enhanced and accompanied by upregulation of PARP and Caspase 3 cleavages as well as proapoptotic Bax protein. Akt activity was suppressed and reduced phosphorylation of its substrates, GSK-3beta and p27, was observed. Suppression of Cyclin D1 expression suggested the downregulation of the Akt-mediated canonical Wnt signaling pathway. ER expression was downregulated in ER-positive cells, while c-ErbB2 expression and its activity were suppressed in ER-negative SK-BR-3 cells. Wogonin feeding to mice showed inhibition of tumor growth of T47D and MDA-MB-231 xenografts by up to 88% without any toxicity after 4 weeks of treatment. As wogonin was effective both in vitro and in vivo, our novel findings open the possibility of wogonin as an effective therapeutic and/or chemopreventive agent against both ER-positive and -negative breast cancers, particularly against the more aggressive and hormonal therapy-resistant ER-negative types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Caspases / drug effects
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cyclin D1 / genetics
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Flavanones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Flavanones
  • Cyclin D1
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Caspases
  • wogonin