Imperatorin exhibits anticancer activities in human colon cancer cells via the caspase cascade

Oncol Rep. 2016 Apr;35(4):1995-2002. doi: 10.3892/or.2016.4586. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


Despite advances in medical treatments for colon cancer, it remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related mortality among men. Thus, more efficacious treatment strategies for colon cancer are needed. Imperatorin is one of the major ingredients present in the root of Angelica dahurica, and has been used in herbal formulations for the treatment of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. However, the medical properties of imperatorin remain unclear. In the present study, the anti‑proliferative activities of imperatorin were investigated in the HT‑29 colon cancer cell line. The results showed that imperatorin significantly inhibited HT‑29 colon cancer cell growth with an IC50 value of 78 µM. Imperatorin induced the apoptosis of colon cancer cells through upregulation of p53 and the caspase cascade. Our findings revealed that imperatorin induced cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase. The apoptotic index showed a steady increment when the imperatorin concentration was increased. The results suggest that imperatorin exerts considerable anti‑proliferative activities in HT‑29 colon cancer cells and highlight the potential of imperatorin as an anticancer agent for colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Furocoumarins / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Furocoumarins
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Caspases
  • imperatorin