Fulvic acid promotes extracellular anti-cancer mediators from RAW 264.7 cells, causing to cancer cell death in vitro

Int Immunopharmacol. 2016 Jul:36:241-248. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2016.04.029. Epub 2016 May 11.


Fulvic acid (FA) is known to promote electrochemical balance as a donor or a receptor possessing many biomedical functions. Nevertheless, the effect of FA on the anti-cancer activity has not been elucidated. In the current study, we first isolated FA from humus and investigated whether FA regulates immune-stimulating functions, such as production of nitric oxide (NO), in RAW 264.7 cells. Our data showed that FA slightly enhances cell viability in a dose-dependent manner and secretion of NO from RAW 264.7 cells. It upregulated the protein and mRNA expression of inducible NO synthesis (iNOS). In addition, FA enhanced the DNA-binding activity of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in RAW 264.7 cells; the NF-κB inhibitor, pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC) effectively attenuated the expression of FA-stimulated iNOS, suggesting that FA stimulates NF-κB to promote iNOS and NO production. Finally, FA-stimulated culture media (FA-CM) from RAW 264.7 cells were collected and MCA-102 fibrosarcoma cells were cultured in this media. The FA-CM augmented MCA-102 fibrosarcoma cell apoptosis; however, an NO inhibitor N(G)-monomethyl-l-arginine (NMMA) slightly inhibited the FA-CM-mediated MCA-102 fibrosarcoma cell apoptosis, which was accompanied by low levels of NO. In the present study, we found that FA induces the generation of NO and iNOS in RAW 264.7 cells by inducing NF-κB activation; however, NO did not significantly stimulate MCA-102 fibrosarcoma cell apoptosis in the current study. In addition, FA-CM enhanced cell death in various human cancer cells such as Hep3B, LNCaP, and HL60. Taken together, FA most likely stimulates immune-modulating molecules such as NO and induces cancer cell apoptosis.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Fulvic acid; Nitric oxide; Nuclear factor-κB.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Benzopyrans / chemistry
  • Benzopyrans / pharmacology*
  • Fibrosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Fibrosarcoma / pathology
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Proline / analogs & derivatives
  • Proline / pharmacology
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Thiocarbamates / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzopyrans
  • NF-kappa B
  • Soil
  • Thiocarbamates
  • prolinedithiocarbamate
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Proline
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • fulvic acid