Chikusetsusaponin IVa methyl ester induces G1 cell cycle arrest, triggers apoptosis and inhibits migration and invasion in ovarian cancer cells

Xin Chen, Qiu Shuang Wu, Fan Cheng Meng, Zheng Hai Tang, Xiuping Chen, Li Gen Lin, Ping Chen, Wen An Qiang, Yi Tao Wang, Qing Wen Zhang, Jin Jian Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background Panacis Japonici Rhizoma (PJR) is one of the most famous Chinese medical herbs that is known for exhibiting potential anti-cancer effects. Purpose This study aims to isolate and investigate the anti-cancer potential of saponins from PJR in ovarian cancer cells. Methods The compounds were separated by comprehensive chromatographic methods. By comparison of the 1H- and 13C NMR data, as well as the HR-ESI-MS data, with the corresponding references, the structures of compounds were determined. MTT assay was performed to evaluate cell viability, along with flow cytometry for cell cycle analysis. JC-1 staining, Annexin V-PI double staining as well as Hoechst 33; 342 staining were used for detecting cell apoptosis. Western blot analysis was conducted to determine the relative protein level. Transwell assays were performed to investigate the effect of the saponin on cell migration and invasion and zymography experiments were used to detect the enzymatic activities. Results Eleven saponins were isolated from PJR and their anti-proliferative effects were evaluated in human ovarian cancer cells. Chikusetsusaponin IVa methyl ester (1) exhibited the highest anti-proliferative potential among these isolates with the IC50 values at less than 10 µM in both ovarian cancer A2780 and HEY cell lines. Compound 1 induced G1 cell cycle arrest accompanied with an S phase decrease, and down-regulated the expression of cyclin D1, CDK2, and CDK6. Further study showed that compound 1 effectively decreased the cell mitochondrial membrane potential, increased the annexin V positive cells and nuclear chromatin condensation, as well as enhanced the expression of cleaved PARP, Bax and cleaved-caspase 3 while decreasing that of Bcl-2. Moreover, compound 1 suppressed the migration and invasion of HEY and A2780 cells, down-regulated the expression of Cdc42, Rac, RohA, MMP2 and MMP9, and decreased the enzymatic activities of MMP2 and MMP9. Conclusion These results provide a comprehensive evaluation of compound 1 as a potential agent for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1555-1565
Number of pages11
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Chikusetsusaponin IVa methyl ester
  • Metastasis
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Panacis Japonici Rhizoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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