A pro-apoptotic 15-kDa protein from Bacopa monnieri activates caspase-3 and downregulates Bcl-2 gene expression in mouse mammary carcinoma cells

J Nat Med. 2013 Jan;67(1):123-36. doi: 10.1007/s11418-012-0661-z. Epub 2012 Apr 1.


In diseases such as cancer, induction of apoptosis has been a new target for mechanism-based drug discovery. The central component of the process of apoptosis is a proteolytic system involving a family of proteases called caspases. Apoptosis involves characteristic morphological and biochemical events ultimately leading to cell demise. Apoptotic induction is evidently central to the mechanism of action of plant-derived anticancer drugs. Extract of the medicinal plant, Bacopa monnieri, inhibits tumor cell proliferation and accumulation of malignant ascites fluid. The crude sample when subjected to Soxhlet extraction yielded different solvent extracts of which the aqueous extract showed biological activity of apoptosis in Ehrlich ascites tumor cell lines (EAT). Bacopa monnieri water extract (BMWE) treatment of EAT cells produced apoptotic morphological characteristics and in-vivo DNA fragmentation, which is due to the activity of an endogenous endonuclease. The endonuclease responsible for DNA fragmentation acts downstream of caspase-3 activity and is also referred to as caspase-activated DNase (CAD). The CAD constitutively expressed in the cell cytoplasm is translocated into the nucleus upon BMWE treatment, as verified by Western blotting, leading to DNA fragmentation and to programmed cell death. The expression of the pro-apoptotic gene Bax was increased and the expression of the anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-2 was decreased by BMWE treatment. Considering the above results, BMWE was able induce apoptosis in EAT cells via Bax-related caspase-3 activation. This may provide experimental data for the further clinical use of BMWE in cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Bacopa / chemistry*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Caspase 3