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J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2006; 16(9): 1399-1404

Published online September 28, 2006

The roots of Aralia continentalis (AC) have been used traditionally in Korean as a folk medicine for anti-inflammation and as an anti-rheumatic. In this study, we report that the ethyl acetate-soluble traction (ACE) of the methanolic extract of AC root inhibited the cell growth of various human cancer cell lines and induced apoptosis of HL-60, human promyelocytic leukemia cells. Its $IC_{50}$ values on growth inhibition were estimated to be $56.3{\mu}g/ml$ on HL-60, $87.2{\mu}g/ml$ on HepG2, $93.2{\mu}g/ml$ on HeLa, $135.5{\mu}g/ml$ on DU-145, and $135.8{\mu}g/ml$ on HT-29 cells. Interestingly, ACE showed no antiproliferative effect on normal lymphocyte cells used as control. Furthermore, nuclear DAPI staining revealed the typical nuclear features of apoptosis in the HL-60 cells exposed to $80{\mu}g/ml$ ACE, and a flow cytometric analysis of the HL-60 cells using propidium iodide showed that the apoptotic cell population increased gradually from 5% at 0 h to 16% at 12 h and 20% at 24 h after treated with $50{\mu}g/ml$ of ACE. TUNEL assay also revealed the apoptotic induction of the HL-60 cells treated with ACE. To obtain further information on the ACE-induced apoptosis, the expression level of certain apoptosis-associated proteins was examined using a Western blot analysis. Treatment of the HL-60 cells with ACE resulted in the activation of caspase-3, and subsequent proteolytic cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). The above results confirmed that the apoptosis in the HL-60 cells was induced by ACE, and that caspase-3-mediated PARP cleavage was involved in the process.