Background: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is one of the most common malignancies among children, characterized by mass production of leukemic blasts. Chemotherapy is the first step in routine treatment, although it may evoke considerable side effects. Matrine, an alkaloid extracted from a Chinese herb, Sophora alopecuroides flavescens Ait, may be protective. Several investigations have indicated pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects in a diverse range of cancer cells. Methods: Matrine’s anti-cancer effects and associated mechanisms were assessed in human ALL B-lymphocytes, focusing on parameters of inflammatory change and apoptosis. Results: Treatment of ALL B-lymphocytes with matrine augmented ROS generation, and caused mitochondrial swelling and a decline in mitochondrial membrane potential. Significant up-regulation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax and down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 were also noted. Conclusion: Our results suggest that matrine may be a potential anticancer agent. However, additional studies are needed to clarify involved mechanisms.
Keywords: Matrine; ALL B-lymphocytes; mitochondria; Bcl-2/Bax; apoptosis.
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