African Journal of Biotechnology

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Rhein induces apoptosis of HCT-116 human colon cancer cells via activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway

X Ge, X Luo, Y Chen, M Li, S Jiang, X Wang


Rhein, a major compound in rhubarb, has been found to have anti-tumor properties in many human cancer cells. However, the details about rhein suppressing the growth of human colon cancer cells remained elusive. In this paper, we explored the potential of rhein as a chemotherapeutic agent on HCT- 116 cells and demonstrated significant inhibition of HCT-116 cells proliferation in both concentration (0, 10, 30, and 100 μM) and time (24, 48, and 72 h) dependent manners. The anti-tumor effects were associated with the introduction of cellular apoptosis, which was relative with reduction of Bcl-2, NF-κB and activation of caspase-9 and 3. In conclusion, these findings suggested that rhein inhibited the growth of HCT-116 through the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and might be a useful strategy of chemotherapeutics of colon cancers.

Key words: Rhein, apoptosis, HCT-116 human colon cancer cells, anti-tumor properties, caspases, Bcl-2 family proteins, NF-κB.

AJOL African Journals Online