Ginkgo biloba extract kaempferol inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells

J Surg Res. 2008 Jul;148(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2008.02.036. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


Background: Kaempferol is one of the most important constituents in ginkgo flavonoids. Recent studies indicate kaempferol may have antitumor activities. The objective of this study was to determine the effect and mechanisms of kaempferol on pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis.

Materials and methods: Pancreatic cancer cell lines MIA PaCa-2 and Panc-1 were treated with kaempferol, and the inhibitory effects of kaempferol on pancreatic cancer cell proliferation were examined by direct cell counting, 3H-thymidine incorporation, and MTS assay. Lactate dehydrogenase release from cells was determined as an index of cytotoxicity. Apoptosis was analyzed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay.

Results: Upon the treatment with 70 microm kaempferol for 4 days, MIA PaCa-2 cell proliferation was significantly inhibited by 79% and 45.7% as determined by direct cell counting and MTS assay, respectively, compared with control cells (P < 0.05). Similarly, the treatment with kaempferol significantly inhibited Panc-1 cell proliferation. Kaempferol treatment also significantly reduced 3H-thymidine incorporation in both MIA PaCa-2 and Panc-1 cells. Combination treatment of low concentrations of kaempferol and 5-fluorouracil showed an additive effect on the inhibition of MIA PaCa-2 cell proliferation. Furthermore, kaempferol had significantly less cytotoxicity than 5-fluorouracil in normal human pancreatic ductal epithelial cells (P = 0.029). In both MIA PaCa-2 and Panc-1 cells, apoptotic cell population was increased when treated with kaempferol in a concentration-dependent manner.

Conclusions: Ginkgo biloba extract kaempferol effectively inhibits pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and induces cancer cell apoptosis, which may sensitize pancreatic tumor cells to chemotherapy. Kaempferol may have clinical applications as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Ginkgo biloba*
  • Humans
  • Kaempferols / pharmacology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Kaempferols
  • Plant Extracts
  • kaempferol