Huachansu mediates cell death in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma by induction of caspase-3 and inhibition of MAP kinase

Int J Oncol. 2015 Aug;47(2):592-600. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.3044. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Huachansu (HCS), a hot water extract of the skin glands of Bufo gargarizans (B. melanostictus), has been used extensively in the treatment of various solid tumors in Asia, particularly in China. However, its effect on the growth of malignancies of hematopoietic origin, particularly lymphomas, is limited. Here we investigated the antiproliferative effect and molecular mechanisms of HCS using non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) Raji, Ramos, and Namalwa cells and the mantle cell lymphoma cells SP53. HCS inhibited proliferation in these cell lines with an IC50 ranging from 3.1 to 25 µl/ml. At a concentration of 25 µl/ml, HCS triggered a sub-G1 arrest in Ramos cells and induced early to late apoptotic cell death. Cleaved caspase-3 was formed in a concentration-dependent manner in Ramos cells following treatment with HCS for 24 h. Intriguingly, when the Ramos cells were treated with the caspase inhibitor ZDEVD, the apoptotic activity of HCS was partially blocked. Furthermore, HCS also blocked the expression of survivin and pRB proteins in a concentration-dependent manner in Ramos cells. Mechanistically, HCS downregulated both the MAPK gene and proteins in Ramos cells. Collectively, our data suggest that HCS is effective in inducing cell death and apoptosis, in part, by activating caspase-3 activity and suppressing MAP kinase in NHL cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphibian Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / enzymology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism*
  • Survivin


  • Amphibian Venoms
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Survivin
  • huachansu
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Caspase 3