Icariin suppresses cell cycle transition and cell migration in ovarian cancer cells

Oncol Rep. 2019 Apr;41(4):2321-2328. doi: 10.3892/or.2019.6986. Epub 2019 Jan 28.


Ovarian cancer is the third most common type of gynecological tumor, in addition to being the most lethal. Cytoreductive surgery with chemotherapy is the standard treatment for ovarian cancer. It is necessary to identify novel chemotherapeutic methods, since current chemotherapy treatments are rarely effective for patients with advanced‑stage or recurrent ovarian cancer and may cause acute systemic toxicity. Icariin (ICA) is a prenylated flavonol glycoside derived from Herba Epimedii, a medicinal plant with a variety of pharmacological activities, including anticancer, antidiabetic and anti‑obesity effects. By analyzing cell viability, cell cycle and cell migration, the present study demonstrated that ICA inhibited the cell viability of the ovarian cancer cell line, SKOV3, and blocked cell cycle transition. ICA inhibited the expression of fuse binding protein 1 (FBP1), a critical regulator of proliferation and tumorigenesis through binding to the c‑Myc promoter, as well as β‑catenin, a key regulator in ovarian cancer initiation, metastasis, chemoresistance and recurrence. Furthermore, it was indicated that ICA inhibited the migration of SKOV3 cells. In accordance with our previous findings on high FBP1 expression in ovarian cancer, FBP1 was a potential target of ICA in ovarian cancer cells. Based on these results, the present study demonstrated that ICA may be a potential therapeutic agent for ovarian cancer treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Flavonoids
  • icariin