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Induction of apoptosis by ginseng saponin metabolite in U937 human monocytic leukemia cells

Kang, K.A., Lim, H.K., Kim, S.U., Kim, Y.W., Kim, W.T., Chung, H.S., Choo, M.K., Kim, D.H., Kim, H.S., Shim, M.J.
Journal of food biochemistry 2005 v.29 no.1 pp. 27-40
Panax pseudoginseng, plant extracts, chemical composition, saponins, cytotoxins, cytotoxicity, structure-activity relationships, humans, leukemia, cell culture, apoptosis, anticarcinogenic activity, viability, gene induction, enzyme activation
We report the cytotoxicity of the ginseng saponin metabolite, Compound K (20-O-D-glucopyranosyl-20(S)-protopanaxadiol, IH901) on various human leukemia cell lines. Compound K had the most effect on U937, a human monocytic leukemia cell line among the tested cell lines. Compound K-treated U937 cells showed characteristics of apoptosis: an exposure of phosphatidylserine from the inner cell membrane to the outer cell membrane, the formation of apoptotic bodies and DNA fragmentation. Compound K induced apoptosis by up-regulating Bax, disrupting the mitochondrial membrane potential, and by activating caspase 9 and caspase 3. Therefore, we suggest that Compound K inhibits U937 cell growth by inducing apoptosis through the up-regulation of Bax and caspase activation.