Novel anti-angiogenic effects of formononetin in human colon cancer cells and tumor xenograft

Oncol Rep. 2012 Dec;28(6):2188-94. doi: 10.3892/or.2012.2056. Epub 2012 Sep 26.


Formononetin is a novel herbal isoflavonoid isolated from Astragalus membranaceus, a medicinal plant that possesses antitumorigenic properties. Our previous findings demonstrated that formononetin initiates growth-inhibitory and pro-apoptotic activities in human colon cancer cells. In the present study, we aimed to further examine the potential of formononetin in controlling angiogenesis and tumor cell invasiveness in human colon cancer cells and tumor xenografts. The results showed that formononetin downregulated the expression of the key pro-angiogenic factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases. We also discovered that the invasiveness of metastatic colon cancer cells was alleviated following drug treatment. The potential anti-angiogenic effect of formononetin was examined in nude mouse xenografts. The tumor size and the number of proliferating cells were reduced in the tumor tissues obtained from the formononetin-treated group. The serum VEGF level was also reduced in the drug-treated animals when compared to the controls. These findings suggest that formononetin inhibits angiogenesis and tumor cell invasion, and thus support its use in the treatment of advanced and metastatic colon cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astragalus propinquus / chemistry
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / biosynthesis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • formononetin