Investigation of the synergistic effects of paclitaxel and herbal substances and endemic plant extracts on cell cycle and apoptosis signal pathways in prostate cancer cell lines

Gene. 2019 Mar 1;687:261-271. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2018.11.049. Epub 2018 Nov 17.


Paclitaxel, which isolated from Taxus brevifolia, is recently started to be used against prostate cancer treatment and it is a very effective compound against cancer. In this study, we aimed to test the synergistic effect of two plant active compounds (sulphoraphane (SFN) and silymarin (SILY)) and several endemic plant species from Turkey (such as Phlomis leucophracta, Rubia davisiana, Alkanna tinctoria), which are known to have anticarcinogenic effect on androgen-independent PC3 and DU145, and androgen-dependent VCaP prostate cancer cell lines, with paclitaxel on the expression of cell cycle signaling and apoptosis regulator genes. Herbal substances and endemic herbal extracts were combined with Paclitaxel drug. IC50 doses were identified as real-time online. The most effective synergistic doses were determined according to isobologram analysis. The apoptotic effects of effective combined doses were evaluated by TUNEL, Annexin V, and JC-1 methods. Apoptotic and/or cell cycle arrest effects of confirmed combined doses on the expression of genes in these pathways were assessed by real-time online. Endemic plant extracts (Alkanna tinctoria, Phlomis leucophracta and Rubia davisiana, IC50 < 220 μg/ml) and herbal substances (SILY, and SFN IC50 < 130 μM) indicated antiproliferative and apoptotic effects in prostate cancer cell lines. They testified to the synergistic effect of paclitaxel with endemic plant extracts (Combination Index CI, ED50 < 0.41). The combinations, which indicate the synergistic effect was increased to the Bax/Bcl‑2 ratio by suppressing Bcl‑2 gene expression into the prostate cancer cell lines. Besides, they increased the expression of TNFRSF10A, TNFRSF1A, CHEK1, CDKN1A, CDKN2B, CDK8, CDKN3 and CASP14 and decreased BAD, CDK5RAP1, CDC20, cyclin H, CDK5RAP1, CDC20. The effective doses of paclitaxel were reduced and G2/M arrest was induced by the endemic plant extracts and herbal substances that indicate a synergistic effect with paclitaxel. By using different combination of herbal extracts or active substances with paclitaxel, more economical and efficient treatment strategies can be developed.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Cell cycle; Endemic plant extracts'; Herbal substances; Paclitaxel; Prostate cancer cell lines.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Boraginaceae / chemistry
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology*
  • Phlomis / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Rubiaceae / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction
  • Silymarin / pharmacology*
  • Sulfoxides
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Plant Extracts
  • Silymarin
  • Sulfoxides
  • sulforaphane
  • Paclitaxel