Mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana Linn, is a tree found in South East Asia, and its pericarps have been used as traditional medicine. Phytochemical studies have shown that they contain a variety of secondary metabolites, such as oxygenated and prenylated xanthones. Recent studies revealed that these xanthones exhibited a variety of biological activities containing anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-cancer effects. We previously investigated the anti-proliferative effects of four prenylated xanthones from the pericarps; alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin, gamma-mangostin, and methoxy-beta-mangostin in various human cancer cells. These xanthones are different in the number of hydroxyl and methoxy groups. Except for methoxy-beta-mangostin, the other three xanthones strongly inhibited cell growth at low concentrations from 5 to 20 microM in human colon cancer DLD-1 cells. Our recent study focused on the mechanism of alpha-mangostin-induced growth inhibition in DLD-1 cells. It was shown that the anti-proliferative effects of the xanthones were associated with cell-cycle arrest by affecting the expression of cyclins, cdc2, and p27; G1 arrest by alpha-mangostin and beta-Mangostin, and S arrest by gamma-mangostin. alpha-Mangostin found to induce apoptosis through the activation of intrinsic pathway following the down-regulation of signaling cascades involving MAP kinases and the serine/threonine kinase Akt. Synergistic effects by the combined treatment of alpha-mangostin and anti-cancer drug 5-FU was to be noted. alpha-Mangostin was found to have a cancer preventive effect in rat carcinogenesis bioassay and the extract from pericarps, which contains mainly alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin, exhibited an enhancement of NK cell activity in a mouse model. These findings could provide a relevant basis for the development of xanthones as an agent for cancer prevention and the combination therapy with anti-cancer drugs.
Keywords: Xanthones; anti-cancer effect; apoptosis; α-mangostin.