Background: The root bark of Paeonia suffruticosa Andrews (PSE), also known as Moutan Cortex, has been widely used in Asia to treat various diseases. The molecular mechanisms by which PSE exerts its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities are well known, but its anti-cancer activity is not yet well understood. Here, we present evidence demonstrating that PSE can be used as a potent anti-cancer agent to treat gastric cancer.
Methods: The effects of the ethanol extract of PSE on cell proliferation were determined using an MTT (1-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-3,5-diphenylformazan) assay. Cell cytotoxicity induced by the PSE extact is measured using an LDH leakage assay. Flow cytometry was used to analyze the cell cycle and to measure the subG0/G1 apoptotic cell fraction. Apoptosis induced by the PSE extact is also examined using a DNA fragmentation assay. Western blot analysis is used to measure the levels of apoptotic proteins such as Fas receptor, caspase-8, caspase-3, PARP, Bax, Bcl-2, MDM2, and p53.
Results: This study demonstrated that treating AGS cells with the PSE extact significantly inhibited cell proliferation and induced cytotoxicity in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The PSE extract also induced apoptosis in AGS cells, as measured by flow cytometry and a DNA fragmentation assay. We found that the PSE extract induced apoptosis via the extrinsic Fas-mediated apoptosis pathway, which was concurrent with the activation of caspases, including caspase-8 and caspase-3, and cleavage of PARP. The MDM2-p53 pathway also played a role in the apoptosis of AGS cells that was induced by the PSE extract.
Conclusions: These results clearly demonstrate that the PSE extact displays growth-suppressive activity and induces apoptosis in AGS cells. Our data suggest that the PSE extact might be a potential anti-cancer agent for gastric cancer.