Anticancer effects of deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide on hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro and in vivo

Tumour Biol. 2014 Apr;35(4):3517-24. doi: 10.1007/s13277-013-1464-x. Epub 2013 Dec 6.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most aggressive malignancies in the world whose chemoprevention became increasingly important in HCC treatment. Although the anticancer effects of asparagus constituents have been investigated in several cancers, its effects on hepatocellular carcinoma have not been fully studied. In this study, we investigated the anticancer effects of the deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide on the hepatocellular carcinoma cells using the in vitro and in vivo experimental model. Our data showed that deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide might act as an effective inhibitor on cell growth in vitro and in vivo and exert potent selective cytotoxicity against human hepatocellular carcinoma Hep3B and HepG2 cells. Further study showed that it could potently induce cell apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest in the more sensitive Hep3B and HepG2 cell lines. Moreover, deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide potentiated the effects of mitomycin both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistic studies revealed that deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide might exert its activity through an apoptosis-associated pathway by modulating the expression of Bax, Bcl-2, and caspase-3. In conclusion, deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide exhibited significant anticancer activity against hepatocellular carcinoma cells and could sensitize the tumoricidal effects of mitomycin, indicating that it is a potential therapeutic agent (or chemosensitizer) for liver cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Asparagus Plant / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mitomycin / pharmacology
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Polysaccharides
  • Mitomycin
  • Caspase 3