Impact of Phytolacca americana extracts on gene expression of colon cancer cells

Phytother Res. 2014 Feb;28(2):219-23. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4979. Epub 2013 Apr 4.


Native Americans have used Phytolacca americana to treat breast ailments, gastrointestinal disorders, rashes, and inflammation. Some anti-cancer and anti-viral research has been reported on this perennial herb, but none has been published concerning the effects of its extracts on cancer cell genes. In this study, changes in gene expression at the transcription level were evaluated in HCT-116 colon cancer cells after exposure to P. americana ethanol extract and its water fraction using the Human Cancer Pathway Finder PCR Array. Of the genes significantly affected in HCT-116 cells exposed to the ethanol extract at 3200 µg/ml, changes in expression of MYC, PLAU, and TEK may benefit the treatment of colon cancer. Exposing the cells to 1600 µg/ml of the water fraction resulted in several gene changes that may also be beneficial in the treatment of colon cancer: NME4, TEK, and THBS1. A few genes on this array that are known to play a specific role in colon cancer had activities changed in a way that may be detrimental in the treatment of colon cancer. Further studies should be performed to understand how these changes would impact colon cancer treatment.

Keywords: HCT-116 Colon Cancer Cells; Human Cancer Pathway Finder; Phytolacca americana; antiproliferative activity.

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • HCT116 Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Phytolacca americana / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry


  • Plant Extracts