Antrodia cinnamomea extract inhibits the proliferation of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells through apoptosis and skp2/microRNAs pathway

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 May 9;18(1):152. doi: 10.1186/s12906-018-2204-y.


Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and affects 1.38 million women worldwide per year. Antiestrogens such as tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulator, are widely used in clinics to treat ER-positive breast tumors. However, remissions of breast cancer are often followed by resistance to tamoxifen and disease relapse. Despite the increasing understanding of the resistance mechanisms, effective regimens for treating tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer are limited. Antrodia cinnamomea is a traditional medicinal mushroom native only to Taiwan. In this study, we aimed to examine in vitro effect of antrodia cinnamomea in the tamoxifen-resistant cancer.

Methods: Antrodia cinnamomea was studied for its biological activity against proliferation of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer by XTT assay. Next, the underlying mechanism was studied by flow cytometry, qPCR and Western's blotting assay.

Results: Our results revealed that the ethanol extract of antrodia cinnamomea (AC) can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, including MCF-7 cell and tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 cell lines. Combination treatment with AC and 10- 6 M tamoxifen have the better inhibitory effect on the proliferation of tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 cells than only AC did. AC can induce apoptosis in these breast cancer cells. Moreover, it can suppress the mRNA expression of skp2 (S-phase kinase-associated protein 2) by increasing the expressions of miR-21-5p, miR-26-5p, and miR-30-5p in MCF-7 and tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 cells.

Conclusions: These results suggest that the ethanol extract of antrodia cinnamomea could be a novel anticancer agent in the armamentarium of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer management. Moreover, we hope to identify additional pure compounds that could serve as promising anti-breast cancer candidates for further clinical trials.

Keywords: Antrodia cinnamomea; Breast cancer; Tamoxifen-resistant; microRNA; skp2.

MeSH terms

  • Antrodia / chemistry*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • S-Phase Kinase-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology


  • MicroRNAs
  • Plant Extracts
  • S-Phase Kinase-Associated Proteins
  • Tamoxifen