Induction of apoptosis in human hepatocarcinoma SMMC-7721 cells in vitro by psoralen from Psoralea corylifolia.
Cell Biochem Biophys. 2014 Nov ;70(2):1075-81. PMID: 24845152
Psoralen is a major active component of Psoralea corylifolia. In the present study, we analyzed psoralen-induced changes in human hepatocarcinoma cell viability and apoptosis, and investigated the underlying mechanisms of the proapoptotic effect of the compound on SMMC-7721 cells. We measured human hepatocarcinoma cell viability by MTT assay and Annexin V-FITC/PI double staining, and evaluated the activity of caspase 3 and the expression of p53, Bax, and Bcl-2 proteins, involved in regulating cell apoptosis. Psoralen was able to inhibit the growth of SMMC-7721 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner and had a strong proapoptotic effect on these cells. We show a dose-dependent increase in caspase-3 activity, and elevated levels of p53 and Bax proteins in psoralen-treated cells, that coincided with dose-dependent decrease in Bcl-2 expression. These results suggest that psoralen induces apoptosis in cancer cells via mechanisms that involve caspase-3, p53, Bax, and Bcl-2 pathway. Our results may provide a molecular basis for the further development of natural compounds as novel anticancer agents for human hepatomas.