Astragalus saponins affect proliferation, invasion and apoptosis of gastric cancer BGC-823 cells

Diagn Pathol. 2013 Oct 24;8:179. doi: 10.1186/1746-1596-8-179.


Background: Astragalus memebranaceus is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine used in treatment of common cold, diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia and cardiac diseases. Recently, there are growing evidences that Astragalus extract may be a potential anti-tumorigenic agent. Some research showed that the total saponins obtained from Astragalus membranaceus possess significant antitumorigenic activity. Gastric cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in the world, almost two-thirds of gastric cancer cases and deaths occur in less developed regions. But the effect of Astragalus membranaceus on proliferation, invasion and apoptosis of gastric cancer BGC-823 cells remains unclear.

Methods: Astragalus saponins were extracted. Cells proliferation was determined by CCK-8 assay. Cell cycle and apoptosis were detected by the flow cytometry. Boyden chamber was used to evaluate the invasion and metastasis capabilities of BGC-823 cells. Tumor growth was assessed by subcutaneous inoculation of cells into BALB/c nude mice.

Results: The results demonstrated that total Astragalus saponins could inhibit human gastric cancer cell growth both in vitro and in vivo, in additional, Astragalus saponins deceased the invasion ability and induced the apoptosis of gastric cancer BGC-823 cells.

Conclusions: Total Astragalus saponins inhibited human gastric cancer cell growth, decreased the invasion ability and induced the apoptosis. This suggested the possibility of further developing Astragalus as an alternative treatment option, or perhaps using it as adjuvant chemotherapeutic agent in gastric cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Astragalus Plant*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Saponins / pharmacology*
  • Saponins / therapeutic use
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins