Combined therapeutic effects of vinblastine and Astragalus saponins in human colon cancer cells and tumor xenograft via inhibition of tumor growth and proangiogenic factors

Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(4):662-74. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.894093. Epub 2014 Mar 24.


Our previous study had demonstrated that Astragalus saponins (AST) could reduce the side effects of orthodox chemotherapeutic drugs, while concurrently promote antitumor activity. In the present study, we attempted to investigate the potential synergistic anticarcinogenic effects of AST and a vinca alkaloid vinblastine (VBL). Reduced expression of key proangiogenic and metastatic factors including VEGF, bFGF, metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, and MMP-9 was detected in VBL-treated colon cancer cells, with further downregulation by combined VBL/AST treatment. Subsequently, VBL or AST decreased LoVo cell invasiveness, with further reduction when the drugs were cotreated. Significant growth inhibition and cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase were achieved by either drug treatment with apparent synergistic effects. VBL-induced apoptosis was confirmed but found to be unrelated to induction of the novel apoptotic protein NSAID-activated gene 1. In vivo study in tumor xenograft indicates that combined VBL/AST treatment resulted in sustained regression of tumor growth, with attenuation of the neutropenic and anemic effects of VBL. In addition, downregulation of proangiogenic and proliferative factors was also visualized, with boosting effect by combined drug treatment. These findings have provided evidence that AST combined with adjuvant chemotherapeutics like VBL could alleviate cancer development through diversified modes of action, including the regulation of angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Astragalus Plant / chemistry*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drug Synergism
  • Gene Silencing
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Saponins / pharmacology*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Vinblastine / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vinblastine
  • MMP2 protein, human
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • MMP9 protein, human
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9