Chinese Herbs – Gleditsia sinensis, Scutellaria barbata, Honokiol, Danshen

Magnolia-grandiflora-frutoThe Chinese herbs, Gleditsia sinensis and Scutellaria barbata are specific in inhibiting growth in human breast cancer cells. The IC50 value of G. sinensis on MCF-7 cancer cells was 486 ug/mL while the IC50 value of S. barbata on MCF-7 was 818 ug/mL.

Honokiol, an extract from the bark and seed pods of various magnolia species, acts in several ways to inhibit growth and proliferation of human breast cancer cells in a laboratory setting (in vitro).  Treatment with honokiol resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of migration of these cells, which was associated with a reduction in nitric oxide (NO) levels. Honokiol also inhibited the levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin (PG) E2 in 4T1 cells, acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. Honokiol inhibited the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), an upstream regulator of COX-2 and iNOS. These results indicate that NO and COX-2 are the key targets of honokiol in the inhibition of breast cancer cell migration, an essential step in invasion and metastasis. Honokiol promotes breast cancer cell death, or apoptosis. It causes a disruption of the cell cycle in the G0/G1 phase of cell division.  In laboratory settings, honokiol inhibits growth of both estrogen positive and estrogen negative breast cancer cell lines. It also inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells resistant to either adriamycin or tamoxifen. In a laboratory setting, honokiol enhanced the activity of adriamycin and decreased resistance to the drug. When used on mice, honokiol was highly effective in causing cell death in breast cancer cells when used in high doses.

Danshen is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, often in combination with other herbs. It has been found to inhibit proliferation of MCF-7 vec breast cancer cells in a laboratory setting and causes cell cycle delay in the G1 phase. Cells that expressed HER2 were resistant to the action of Danshen.