Objectives: Pancreatic cancer has a 100% mortality rate; the aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of dandelion root extract (DRE) in inducing apoptosis and autophagy in aggressive and resistant pancreatic cancer cells.
Methods: The effect of DRE was evaluated using WST-1 (4-[3-(4-iodophenyl)-2-(4-nitrophenyl)-2H-5-tetrazolio]-1,3-benzene disulfonate) assay. Apoptotic cell death was confirmed by nuclear condensation by Hoechst staining and externalization of phosphatidylserine to the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane by Annexin-V binding assay. Loss of mitochondrial membrane potential was observed using the JC-1 (5,5',6, 6'-tetrachloro-1,1',3,3' tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) dye. The induction of autophagy was detected using a monodansylcadaverine assay and this was confirmed by immunofluorescence for light chain 3-II.
Results: BxPC-3 and PANC-1 pancreatic cells were sensitive to aqueous DRE. This extract induces selective apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Dandelion root extract caused the collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential, leading to prodeath autophagy. Normal human fibroblasts were resistant at similar doses.
Conclusions: We demonstrate that DRE has the potential to induce apoptosis and autophagy in human pancreatic cancer cells with no significant effect on noncancerous cells. This will provide a basis on which further research in cancer treatment through DRE can be executed.