Xanthorrhizol, a natural sesquiterpenoid, induces apoptosis and growth arrest in HCT116 human colon cancer cells

You Jin Kang, Kwang Kyun Park, Won Yoon Chung, Jae Kwan Hwang, Sang Kook Lee

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Xanthorrhizol is a sesquiterpenoid from the rhizome of Curcuma xanthorrhiza. In our previous studies, xanthorrhizol suppressed cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression, inhibited cancer cell growth, and exerted an anti-metastatic effect in an animal model. However, the exact mechanisms for its inhibitory effects against cancer cell growth have not yet been fully elucidated. In the present study, we investigated the growth inhibitory effect of xanthorrhizol on cancer cells. Xanthorrhizol dose-dependently exerted antiproliferative effects against HCT116 human colon cancer cells. Xanthorrhizol also arrested cell cycle progression in the G0/G1 and G2/M phase and induced the increase of sub-G1 peaks. Cell cycle arrest was highly correlated with the downregulation of cyclin A, cyclin B1, and cyclin D1; cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1), CDK2, and CDK4; proliferating cell nuclear antigen; and inductions of p21 and p27, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors. The apoptosis by xanthorrhizol was markedly evidenced by induction of DNA fragmentation, release of cytochrome c, activation of caspases, and cleavage of poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase. In addition, xanthorrhizol increased the expression and promoter activity of pro-apoptotic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 (NAG-1). These findings provide one plausible mechanism for the growth inhibitory activity of xanthorrhizol against cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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