Sanguinarine induces apoptosis of HT-29 human colon cancer cells via the regulation of Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and caspase-9-dependent pathway

Int J Toxicol. 2012 Jan-Feb;31(1):70-7. doi: 10.1177/1091581811423845. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


Sanguinarine is an alkaloid obtained from the bloodroot plant Sanguinaria canadensis and has beneficial effects on oxidative stress and inflammatory disorders. Previous reports have demonstrated that sanguinarine also exhibit anticancer properties. In the current study, we investigated the effects of sanguinarine on HT-29 human colon cancer cells. It was observed that sanguinarine treatment induces a dose-dependent increase in apoptosis of human colon cancer cells. We also investigated the effects of sanguinarine on the expression of apoptosis-associated proteins, and the results revealed that there was an increase in Bax and a decrease in B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) protein levels. Moreover, sanguinarine treatment significantly increases the activation of caspases 3 and 9 that are the key executioners in apoptosis. Our results suggest that sanguinarine induces apoptosis of HT-29 human colon cancer cells and may have a potential therapeutic use in the treatment of human colon cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Benzophenanthridines / pharmacology*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Caspase 9 / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BAX protein, human
  • Benzophenanthridines
  • Isoquinolines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • sanguinarine
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 9