Korean Red Ginseng Extract Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Sorafenib through Abrogation of CREB and c-Jun Activation in Renal Cell Carcinoma

Phytother Res. 2017 Jul;31(7):1078-1089. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5829. Epub 2017 May 22.


Although application of sorafenib in the treatment of human renal cell carcinoma (RCC) remains one of the best examples of successful targeted therapy, majority of RCC patients suffer from its side effects as well as develop resistance to this targeted therapy. Thus, there is a need to promote novel alternative therapies for the treatment of RCC. In this study, we investigated whether Korean red ginseng extract (KRGE) could inhibit the proliferation and induce chemosensitization in human renal cancer cells. Also, we used a human phospho-antibody array containing 46 antibodies against signaling molecules to examine a subset of phosphorylation events after KRGE and sorafenib combination treatment. Korean red ginseng extract suppressed the proliferation of two RCC cell lines; activated caspase-3; caused poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage; abrogated the expression of B-cell lymphoma 2, B-cell lymphoma extra large, survivin, inhibitors of apoptosis proteins-1/2, cyclooxygenase-2, cyclin D1, matrix metallopeptidase-9, and vascular endothelial growth factor; and upregulated pro-apoptotic gene products. Interestingly, KRGE enhanced the cytotoxic and apoptotic effects of sorafenib in RCC cells. The combination treatment of KRGE and sorafenib more clearly suppressed cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein and c-Jun phosphorylation and induced phosphorylation of p53 than did the individual treatment regimen. Our results clearly demonstrate that KRGE can enhance the anticancer activity of sorafenib and may have a substantial potential in the treatment of RCC. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: CREB; Korean red ginseng extract; apoptosis; c-Jun; sorafenib.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Niacinamide / pharmacology
  • Panax / chemistry*
  • Phenylurea Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / metabolism*
  • Sorafenib
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • CREB1 protein, human
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Plant Extracts
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib