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Archives of Medical Science
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vol. 15
Basic research

Antiproliferative and apoptotic activity of glycyrrhizinic acid in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and evaluation of its effect on cell cycle, cell migration and m-TOR/PI3K/Akt signalling pathway

Zhen Zhang, Yun Feng, Zhen-Yu Li, Xiao-Zhong Cao

Arch Med Sci 2019; 15, 1: 174–182
Online publish date: 2018/11/08
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Glycyrrhizinic acid is a natural product of pharmacological relevance and its anticancer activity against breast cancer cell lines has not been evaluated. Therefore the main purpose of the present study was to investigate the anticancer effects of glycyrrhizinic acid in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.

Material and methods
The MTT assay was used to evaluate the anticancer effects while a clonogenic assay was used to study its effects on colony formation tendency. Flow cytometry was used to study the effects on cell cycle phase distribution and apoptosis. Western blot assay was used to study changes in protein expression of the m-TOR/PI3K/Akt pathway.

The results indicated that glycyrrhizinic acid caused significant (p < 0.01). The growth inhibitory effects MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. The growth inhibitory effects of glycyrrhizinic acid exhibited concentration-dependent as well as time-dependent growth inhibitory trend. Different doses of glycyrrhizinic acid had a tendency to significantly (p < 0.01) inhibit the colony formation tendency of MCF-7 cells. As compared to the control group, glycyrrhizinic acid-treated cells showed a high percentage of apoptotic cells. Cells treated with a 10, 50 and 100 µM dose of glycyrrhizinic acid led to a 24.3%, 41.5% and 82.1% increase in the sub-G1 phase (apoptotic) cells. Glycyrrhizinic acid also led to significant (p < 0.01) inhibition of cell invasion along with downregulation of m-TOR/PI3K/Akt protein expression.

Glycyrrhizinic acid inhibited MCF-7 human breast cancer cell growth and therefore may prove essential lead molecule in the treatment of breast cancer.


breast cancer, cell cycle, flow cytometry, glycyrrhizinic acid, apoptosis

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