Enhanced antitumor efficacy with combined administration of astragalus and pterostilbene for melanoma

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(3):1163-9. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2014.15.3.1163.


Astragalus, a commonly used traditional Chinese medicine, has exhibited antitumor actions in patients. In this study, in vitro and in vivo antitumor effects of astragalus and synergistic antitumor efficacy in combination with pterostilbene were investigated. Melanoma cells were treated with pterostilbene (Pt), graduated doses of astragalus injection (AI), or these in combination. Cell viability was measured using a MTT assay. Released nucleosomes and caspase activity were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Growth inhibition in vitro and in vivo was also assessed. Analysis of variance and t tests were used for statistical analysis. Significant reduction (p<0.05) in cellular proliferation were observed with AI and AI-Pt in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Apoptosis and caspase-3/7 activity were significantly increased by AI and AI-Pt treatment (p<0.05). In vivo, AI inhibited melanoma tumor growth, with inhibition rates ranging from 36.5 to 62.3%, by inducing apoptosis via up-regulation Bax expression and the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and down-regulating Bcl-2 expression. AI significantly inhibits the growth of melanoma in vitro and in vivo by inducing apoptosis. These data suggest that combined treatment of astragalus with pterostilbene enhances antitumor efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Astragalus Plant / metabolism*
  • Caspase 3 / biosynthesis
  • Caspase 7 / biosynthesis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Nucleosomes / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology
  • Stilbenes / therapeutic use*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / biosynthesis


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Nucleosomes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Stilbenes
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • pterostilbene
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 7