Polyphyllin D, a steroidal saponin from Paris polyphylla, inhibits endothelial cell functions in vitro and angiogenesis in zebrafish embryos in vivo

J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Sep 1;137(1):64-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.021. Epub 2011 May 31.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Angiogenesis, the process of blood vessel formation, is critical to tumour growth. The importance of angiogenesis in tumour development has lead to the development of anti-angiogenic strategies to inhibit tumour growth. In this study, polyphyllin D (PD), an active component in Chinese herb, Paris polyphylla, was evaluated for its potential anti-angiogenic effects.

Materials and methods: The inhibitory effects of PD on three important processes involved in angiogenesis, i.e. proliferation, migration and differentiation were examined using human microvascular endothelial cell line HMEC-1 by MTT assay, scratch assay and tube formation assay, respectively. Using zebrafish embryos as an animal model of angiogenesis, the anti-angiogenic effect of PD was further verified in vivo.

Results: PD suppressed the growth of HMEC-1 cells at 0.1-0.4 μM without toxic effects. At 0.3 μM and 0.4 μM, PD significantly inhibited endothelial cell migration and capillary tube formation. About 70% of the zebrafish embryos showed defects in intersegmental vessel formation upon treatment with PD at concentrations of 0.156 μM and 0.313 μM.

Conclusion: The anti-angiogenic effects of PD have been explored in the study which implied a potential therapeutic development of PD in cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / isolation & purification
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Diosgenin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Diosgenin / isolation & purification
  • Diosgenin / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / isolation & purification
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / blood supply
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Liliaceae* / chemistry
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Saponins
  • Time Factors
  • Zebrafish / embryology


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Saponins
  • polyphyllin D
  • Diosgenin