Ginsenoside Rh2 induces apoptosis and paraptosis-like cell death in colorectal cancer cells through activation of p53.
Cancer Lett. 2011 Feb 28 ;301(2):185-92. Epub 2010 Dec 30. PMID: 21194832
Ginsenosides are the main bioactive components in American ginseng, a commonly used herb. In this study, we showed that the ginsenoside Rh2 exhibited significantly more potent cell death activity than the ginsenoside Rg3 in HCT116 and SW480 colorectal cancer cells. Cell death induced by Rh2 is mediated in part by the caspase-dependent apoptosis and in part by the caspase-independent paraptosis, a type of cell death that is characterized by the accumulation of cytoplasmic vacuoles. Treatment of cells with Rh2 activated the p53 pathway and significantly increased the levels of the pro-apoptotic regulator, Bax, while decreasing the levels of anti-apoptosis regulator Bcl-2. Removal of p53 significantly blocked Rh2-induced cell death as well as vacuole formation, suggesting that both types of cell death induced by Rh2 are mediated by p53 activity. Furthermore, we show that Rh2 increased ROS levels and activated the NF-κB survival pathway. Blockage of ROS by NAC or catalase inhibited the activation of NF-κB signaling and enhanced Rh2-induced cell death, suggesting that the anti-cancer effect of Rh2 can be enhanced by antioxidants.