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Selective Induction of Apoptosis and Autophagy Through Treatment With Dandelion Root Extract in Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Ovadje, Pamela BSc*; Chochkeh, Madona BSc*; Akbari-Asl, Pardis BSc*; Hamm, Caroline MD; Pandey, Siyaram PhD*

doi: 10.1097/MPA.0b013e31824b22a2
Original Articles

Objectives Pancreatic cancer has a 100% mortality rate; the aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of dandelion root extract (DRE) in inducing apoptosis and autophagy in aggressive and resistant pancreatic cancer cells.

Methods The effect of DRE was evaluated using WST-1 (4-[3-(4-iodophenyl)-2-(4-nitrophenyl)-2H-5-tetrazolio]-1,3-benzene disulfonate) assay. Apoptotic cell death was confirmed by nuclear condensation by Hoechst staining and externalization of phosphatidylserine to the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane by Annexin-V binding assay. Loss of mitochondrial membrane potential was observed using the JC-1 (5,5′,6, 6′-tetrachloro-1,1′,3,3′ tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) dye. The induction of autophagy was detected using a monodansylcadaverine assay and this was confirmed by immunofluorescence for light chain 3-II.

Results BxPC-3 and PANC-1 pancreatic cells were sensitive to aqueous DRE. This extract induces selective apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Dandelion root extract caused the collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential, leading to prodeath autophagy. Normal human fibroblasts were resistant at similar doses.

Conclusions We demonstrate that DRE has the potential to induce apoptosis and autophagy in human pancreatic cancer cells with no significant effect on noncancerous cells. This will provide a basis on which further research in cancer treatment through DRE can be executed.

Abbreviations DRE - dandelion root extract

LC3-II - light chain 3-II

MDC - monodansylcadaverine

From the *Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor, and †Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Received for publication June 10, 2011; accepted January 6, 2012.

Reprints: Siyaram Pandey, PhD, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Ave, Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9B 3P4 (e-mail:

This study was supported by the Knights of Columbus Chapter 9671 (Windsor, Ontario) and Seeds4Hope grant from Windsor and Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.