Background: Oxymatrine, an isolated extract from traditional Chinese herb Sophora Flavescens Ait, has been traditionally used for therapy of anti-hepatitis B virus, anti-inflammation and anti-anaphylaxis. The present study was to investigate the anti-cancer effect of oxymatrine on human pancreatic cancer PANC-1 cells, and its possible molecular mechanism.
Methods: The effect of oxymatrine on the viability and apoptosis was examined by methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium and flow cytometry analysis. The expression of Bax, Bcl-2, Bcl-x (L/S), Bid, Bad, HIAP-1, HIAP-2, XIAP, NAIP, Livin and Survivin genes was accessed by RT-PCR. The levels of cytochrome c and caspase 3 protein were assessed by Western blotting.
Results: Oxymatrine inhibited cell viability and induced apoptosis of PANC-1 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. This was accompanied by down-regulated expression of Livin and Survivin genes while the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio was upregulated. Furthermore, oxymatrine treatment led to the release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase-3 proteins.
Conclusion: Oxymatrine can induce apoptotic cell death of human pancreatic cancer, which might be attributed to the regulation of Bcl-2 and IAP families, release of mitochondrial cytochrome c and activation of caspase-3.