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October 2021

J Cell Biochem Suppl. 1997 ; 27(): 106-12.

Initial study on naturally occurring products from traditional Chinese herbs and vegetables for chemoprevention.

Zheng S, Yang H, Zhang S, Wang X, Yu L, Lu J, Li J.

Cancer Institute, Zhejiang Medical University, Hangzhou, China.

A number of naturally occurring products from vegetables and herbs exert chemopreventive properties against carcinogenesis. In this paper, two such compounds, isolated from garlic and from a traditional Chinese medicinal herb, are described for review. Elemene, isolated from the Chinese medicinal herb Rhizoma zedoariae, was shown to exhibit antitumor activity in human and murine tumor cells in vitro and in vivo. This novel antineoplastic agent has substantial clinical activity against various tumors. The in vitro effect of elemene on the growth of leukemia cells was evaluated by MTT assay. The IC50 values of elemene for promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells and erythroleukemia K562 cells were 27.5 micrograms/mL and 81 micrograms/mL, respectively, while IC50 for peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) was 254.3 micrograms/mL. The inhibitory effect of elemene on proliferation of HL-60 cells was associated with cell cycle arrest from S to G2M phase transition and with induction of apoptosis. The apoptosis of tumor cells was confirmed by DNA ladder formation on gel electrophoresis and characteristic ultrastructural alterations. The results also demonstrated that inhibitory effects of allicin, a natural organosulfide from garlic, on proliferation of tumor cells were associated with the cell cycle blockage of S/G2M boundary phase and induction of apoptosis. These findings suggest that induction of apoptosis may contribute to the mechanisms of antitumor activity of elemene and allicin, which merit investigation as potential chemoprevention agents in humans.

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