Pogostemon cablin Triggered ROS-Induced DNA Damage to Arrest Cell Cycle Progression and Induce Apoptosis on Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Vitro and In Vivo

Molecules. 2020 Nov 30;25(23):5639. doi: 10.3390/molecules25235639.


The purpose of the study was to elucidate the anti-hepatoma effects and mechanisms of Pogostemon cablin essential oils (PPa extract) in vitro and in vivo. PPa extract exhibited an inhibitory effect on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and was less cytotoxic to normal cells, especially normal liver cells, than it was to HCC cells, exerting a good selective index. Additionally, PPa extract inhibited HCC cell growth by blocking the cell cycle at the G0/G1 phase via p53 dependent or independent pathway to down regulated cell cycle regulators. Moreover, PPa extract induced the FAS-FASL-caspase-8 system to activate the extrinsic apoptosis pathway, and it increased the bax/bcl-2 ratio and reduced ΔΨm to activate the intrinsic apoptosis pathway that might be due to lots of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production which was induced by PPa extract. In addition, PPa extract presented to the potential to act synergistically with sorafenib to effectively inhibit HCC cell proliferation through the Akt/mTOR pathway and reduce regrowth of HCC cells. In an animal model, PPa extract suppressed HCC tumor growth and prolonged lifespan by reducing the VEGF/VEGFR axis and inducing tumor cell apoptosis in vivo. Ultimately, PPa extract demonstrated nearly no or low system-wide, physiological, or pathological toxicity in vivo. In conclusion, PPa extract effectively inhibited HCC cell growth through inducing cell cycle arrest and activating apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, PPa extract exhibits less toxicity toward normal cells and organs than it does toward HCC cells, which might lead to fewer side effects in clinical applications. PPa extract may be developed into a clinical drug to suppress tumor growth or functional food to prevent HCC initiation or chemoprotection of HCC recurrence.

Keywords: Pogostemon cablin (PPa extract); apoptosis; cell cycle; chemoprevention; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); synergism.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • DNA Damage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Pogostemon / chemistry*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species