Caspase dependent apoptotic inhibition of melanoma and lung cancer cells by tropical Rubus extracts

Biomed Pharmacother. 2016 May;80:193-199. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2016.03.022. Epub 2016 Mar 26.


Rubus fairholmianus Gard. inhibits human melanoma (A375) and lung cancer (A549) cell growth by the caspase dependent apoptotic pathway. Herbal products have a long history of clinical use and acceptance. They are freely available natural compounds that can be safely used to prevent various ailments. The plants and plant derived products became the basis of traditional medicine system throughout the world for thousands of years. The effects of R. fairholmianus root acetone extract (RFRA) on the proliferation of A375 and A549 cells was examined in this study. RFRA led to a decrease in cell viability, proliferation and an increase in cytotoxicity in a dose dependent manner when compared with control and normal skin fibroblast cells (WS1). The morphology of treated cells supported apoptotic cell death. Annexin V/propidium iodide staining indicated that RFRA induced apoptosis in A375 and A549 cells and the percentages of early and late apoptotic populations significantly increased. Moreover, the apoptotic inducing ability of RFRA when analysing effector caspase 3/7 activity, indicated a marked increase in treated cells. In summary, we have shown the anticancer effects of RFRA in A375 and A549 cancer cells via induction of caspase dependent apoptosis in vitro. The extract is more effective against melanoma; which may suggest the usefulness of RFRA-based anticancer therapies.

Keywords: A375 melanoma; A549 lung cancer; Apoptosis; Caspase; R. fairholmianus; WS1 skin fibroblast.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism*
  • Caspase 7 / metabolism*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Shape / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Rubus / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 7