The Chinese herbs Scutellaria baicalensis and Fritillaria cirrhosa target NFκB to inhibit proliferation of ovarian and endometrial cancer cells

Mol Carcinog. 2015 May;54(5):368-78. doi: 10.1002/mc.22107. Epub 2013 Nov 19.


The herbs Scutellaria baicalensis (SB) and Fritillaria cirrhosa (FC) are widely used in Chinese medicine to treat several aliments and as an adjuvant to chemotherapy of lung cancer. No information is available regarding the two herbs' influence on ovarian and endometrial cancer. To fill this data gap we compared cell growth responses to SB and FC in ovarian and endometrial cancer cell lines. Dose-dependent cell growth inhibition was observed following higher doses in all cell lines while lower doses stimulated growth in only endometrial cell lines. Higher doses of SB and FC significantly decreased cell growth on soft agar and decreased the invasive potential of cancer cells. Treatment of cells with both herbs resulted in activation of caspase-3, G0 /G1 phase cell cycle arrest, downregulation of cyclins D1 and D3 and induction of p27. Both herbs decreased NFκB DNA binding, reduced expression of phosphorylated IκBα, abrogated NFκB activation, and downregulated NFκB-regulated metastasis-promoting proteins in cancer cells. Furthermore, knockdown of NFκB attenuated SB- and FC-induced cell growth inhibition. These results suggest that inhibition of NFκB activation may be an important mechanism for growth suppression by SB and FC. Data indicate that these herbs may represent a new source of agents for NFκB inhibition in cancer therapy.

Keywords: NFκB; apoptosis; cell cycle; invasion; proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Fritillaria / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Scutellaria baicalensis / chemistry*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • NF-kappa B
  • RNA, Small Interfering