A natural compound from Hydnophytum formicarium induces apoptosis of MCF-7 cells via up-regulation of Bax

Hasmah Abdullah, Azimahtol H.L. Pihie, Judit Hohmann, Joseph Molnár

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Hydnophytum formicarium Jack is an epyphytic shrub that belongs to the family of Rubiaceae and is native to the tropical rain forests of the Asean region, which includes Malaysia. A flavanoid derivative, 7, 3', 5'-trihydroxyflavanone (3HFD), isolated from H. formicarium has been reported to have cytotoxic effects on the human breast carcinoma cell line MCF-7. The aim of the current study was to investigate the mode of cell death in MCF-7 cells treated with 3HFD. A DNA fragmentation assay was conducted on isolated genomic DNA, a TUNEL assay was used to determine the mode of cell death and Western blotting was used to evaluate the expression levels of Bax and Bcl-2. Immunofluorescence staining of MCF-7 cells was also performed to confirm the up-regulation of the Bax protein.Results: The ladder pattern resulting from the DNA fragmentation assay was a multimer of 180 kb. The morphological changes of cells undergoing apoptosis were visualised by a TUNEL assay over time. The percentage of apoptotic cells increased as early as 6 hours post treatment compared to untreated cells. Western blotting revealed up-regulation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax. However, 3HFD did not affect expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2.Conclusions: Our results provide evidence that plant-derived 3HFD was able to induce the apoptotic cell death of MCF-7 cells by increasing Bax expression level and makes 3HFD a promising agent for chemotherapy, which merits further study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalCancer Cell International
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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