Tulipa edulis Bak (TEB) is an active ingredient in various traditional Chinese medicine compounds and is commonly used to treat swelling and redness, remove toxicity and eliminate stagnation, as well as to prevent and treat certain cancer types. However, the underlying molecular mechanism of the anticancer activity of TEB remains unclear. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect and underlying mechanism of the ethanolic extract of TEB (EETEB) on SGC-7901 human gastric carcinoma cells. An MTT assay was performed to analyze cell viability. In addition, transmission electron microscopy, an Annexin V/fluorescein isothiocyanate assay, a JC-1 assay and laser scanning confocal microscopy with DAPI staining were used to determine the rate of apoptosis. Furthermore, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis were used to detect the expression levels of the apoptosis gene and protein. EETEB was identified to inhibit the growth of SGC-7901 cells in a dose-dependent manner and induce changes in cell morphology. At the molecular level, EETEB induced SGC-7901 cell DNA fragmentation, loss of plasma membrane and asymmetrical collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential, while it increased the expression of pro-apoptotic B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2)-associated X protein and reduced expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2. Thus, the results of the current study revealed that the application of EETEB may inhibit the growth of the SGC-7901 cells due to mitochondria-mediated apoptosis.
Keywords: Pseudobulbus Cremastrae seu Pleiones; apoptosis; gastric carcinoma cells; mitochondrial signaling pathway; ultrastructure.