Journal Article

The extract of huanglian, a medicinal herb, induces cell growth arrest and apoptosis by upregulation of interferon-β and TNF-α in human breast cancer cells

Jing X. Kang, Jing Liu, Jingdong Wang, Chengwei He and Frederick P. Li

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 26, issue 11, pages 1934-1939
Published in print November 2005 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgi154
The extract of huanglian, a medicinal herb, induces cell growth arrest and apoptosis by upregulation of interferon-β and TNF-α in human breast cancer cells

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Huanglian (Coptidis rhizoma), a widely used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, has been shown recently to possess anticancer activities. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the anticancer effect of the herb is poorly understood. Specifically, whether huanglian extract affects the expression of cancer-related genes has not been defined. This study used DNA microarray technology to examine the effect of the herbal extract on expression of the common genes involved in carcinogenesis in two human breast cancer cell lines, the ER-positive MCF-7 and ER-negative MDA-MB-231 cells. Treatment of the cancer cells with huanglian extract markedly inhibited their proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The growth inhibitory effect was much more profound in MCF-7 cell line than that in MDA-MB-231 cells. DNA microarray assay revealed that treatment with huanglian dramatically increased the mRNA expression of interferon-β (IFN-β) and tumor necrosis factor-α in MCF-7 cells. Quantitative analysis by real-time PCR or western blotting confirmed the upregulation of the two genes (especially IFN-β) in MCF-7 cells, but not in MDA-MB-231 cells. Addition of neutralizing antibody against IFN-β to culture medium markedly inhibited the huanglian-induced antiproliferative effect, confirming the involvement of IFN-β in the huanglian's effect and also suggesting an autocrine pathway for the action of IFN-β in this setting. Given that IFN-β is among the most important anticancer cytokines, the upregulation of this gene by huanglian is, at least in part, responsible for its antiproliferative effect. The results of this study implicate huanglian as a promising herb for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of certain cancers.

Keywords: IFN-β, interferon-β; TNF-α, tumor necrosis factor-α

Journal Article.  4129 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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