Antitumor effects of herbal mixture extract in the pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line PANC1

Oncol Rep. 2016 Nov;36(5):2875-2883. doi: 10.3892/or.2016.5067. Epub 2016 Sep 5.


A recent study showned that complementary medicine is gradually gaining wide acceptance. In the present study, the herbal mixture extract (H3) composed of 3 oriental herbal plants was investigated for anticancer activity in vitro and in vivo. H3 inhibited PANC1 cell growth by promoting G0/G1 arrest (11% increase) and apoptotic cell death (9% increase). H3 also suppressed stem cell-like side population cells (4% decrease) and migration activity (24% decrease). In contrast, gemcitabine decreased side population cells and migration activity by 3 and 11%, respectively. These effects of H3 and gemcitabine were further studied by examining the expression of apoptosis-associated genes (CXCR4, JAK2 and XIAP) and stem cell-associated genes (ABCG2, POU5F1 and SOX2). We also found that H3 suppressed tumor growth by 46% in a PANC1‑xenograft model, while gemcitabine caused a 36% decrease. The antitumor effects of H3 were confirmed by western blot analysis for COX-2 and cytochrome c expression. Furthermore, necrotic cell death and erythrocyte-containing cavities were detected in tumor tissue by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. Notably, the combinatorial therapy (H3 and gemcitabine) increased tumor growth compared to that in the control. In conclusion, the present study shows that H3 has promise as a therapeutic agent against pancreatic cancer and its cancer stem cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Herbal Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase 2 / biosynthesis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / biosynthesis
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / biosynthesis
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • CXCR4 protein, human
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein
  • XIAP protein, human
  • JAK2 protein, human
  • Janus Kinase 2