Background: Many Chinese herbs, especially herbal injections, have been shown to have anti-tumor effects in recent years. However, since most reports focus on the clinical effectiveness of these herbs, their mechanisms of action are not well understood. In this study, we assessed apoptosis in the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell line HepG2 induced by an injectable extract from the seed of Coix lacryma-jobi (Semen coicis, SC), and monitored the expression of Bcl-2 and caspase-8.
Methods: Injectable SC was applied to HepG2 cells at different concentrations and the cells were collected 12, 24 and 48 hours later. 5-fluorouracil was used as a positive control group, and fluorescence-activated cell-sorting cytometry was used to measure the apoptosis rate of HepG2 cells and the expression of Bcl-2 and caspase-8 proteins.
Results: SC induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, and the expression of caspase-8 was elevated and prolonged. However, it did not significantly influence the expression of Bcl-2.
Conclusion: Injectable SC may induce apoptosis in HCC cells by regulating the expression of caspase-8.