Decursin, a pyranocoumarin isolated from the Korean Angelica gigas root, has demonstrated anti-cancer properties. In the present study, we found that decursin inhibited cell viability in cultured human urinary bladder cancer 235J cells and colon cancer HCT116 cells. The inhibited proliferation was due to apoptotic induction, because both cells treated with decursin dose-dependently showed a sub-G1 phase accumulation and an increased cytoplasmic DNA-histone complex. Cell death caused by decursin was also associated with the downregulation of anti-apoptotic factor Bcl-2 and the up-regulation of pro-apoptotic molecules cytochrome c, caspase 3 and Bax. Treatment of both types of cancer cells with decursin resulted in G1-phase cell cycle arrest, as revealed by FACS analyses. In addition, decursin increased protein levels of p21WAF1 with a decrease in cyclins and cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs). Furthermore, decursin induced the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) in both cancer cell lines, with the notable exceptions of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase. Finally, pretreatment with ERK-specific inhibitor PD98059 reversed decursin-induced p21WAF1 expression and decursin-inhibited cell growth. Thus, these findings suggest that decursin has potential therapeutic efficacy for the treatment of bladder and colon cancer.
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