Malignant ascites is a highly severe and intractable complication of advanced or recurrent malignant tumors that is often immunotherapy-resistant. Rhizoma Pleionis is widely used in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial and anticancer agent, but its effectiveness in treating malignant ascites is unclear. In the current study, we investigated the effect of polysaccharides isolated from Rhizoma Pleionis (PRP) on murine hepatocarcinoma H22 cells in an ascites model. We have found that the main components of PRP, that presented a relative molecular weight of 383.57 kDa, were mannose and glucose. We also found that PRP reduced the occurrence of abdominal ascites and increased survival in our mouse model. An immune response in the ascites tumor model was observed by performing a lymphocytes proliferation experiment and an E-rosette test. The ratios of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and NK cells in the spleen were examined by flow cytometry, and the mRNA expression of Foxp3+in CD4⁺CD25⁺ (T regulatory Tregs) was measured by RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction). The levels of the cytokines TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor), VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), IL-2 (interleukin), and IFN-γ (interferon) in the serum and ascites supernatants were measured by ELISA. The expression of Foxp3 and Stat3 in peritoneal cells in the mouse model was measured by immunocytochemistry. The results indicated that PRP increased H22 tumor cell apoptosis in vivo by activating and enhancing the immune response. Furthermore, the effects of PRP on the proliferation of H22 cells were assessed by the CCK8 assay, Hoechest 33258, and TUNEL staining in vitro. We found that PRP suppressed the proliferation of H22 tumor cells but had no effect on BRL (Big rat liver) -3A rat hepatoma normal cells in vitro. Next, we investigated the underlying immunological mechanism by which PRP inhibits malignant ascites. PRP induced tumor cell apoptosis by inhibiting the Jak1⁻Stat3 pathway and by activating Caspase-3 and Caspase-8 to increase the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. Collectively, our results indicate that PRP exhibits significant antitumor properties in H22 cells in vivo and in vitro, indicating that PRP may be used as a new therapeutic drug for cancer treatment.
Keywords: H22 hepatoma cells; Rhizoma Pleionis; malignant ascites; orchidaceae; polysaccharides.