Journal of Natural Medicines

, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 252–259 | Cite as

18β-glycyrrhetinic acid inhibits migration and invasion of human gastric cancer cells via the ROS/PKC-α/ERK pathway

  • Hongke Cai
  • Xi Chen
  • Jianbo ZhangEmail author
  • Jijian WangEmail author
Original Paper


18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (18β-GA) is a bioactive component of licorice root which exerts pharmacological activities including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-oxidative and anti-cancer effects. The current study further investigated the molecular mechanisms associated with the inhibitory effects of 18β-GA on tumor metastasis in human gastric cancer cells. The results indicated that 18β-GA significantly reduced invasion and migration activities and suppressed MMP-2 and 9 activities on SGC-7901cells in a dose-dependent manner. Further study showed 18β-GA upregulated E-cadherin expression but downregulated vimentin expression. The results also showed that 18β-GA inhibited ROS formation, PKC-α expression and the phosphorylation of ERK in a dose-dependent manner. In conclusion, this study revealed that 18β-GA inhibits migration and invasion via the ROS/PKC-α/ERK signaling pathway in gastric cancer cells. This suggests that 18β-GA has the potential to be used as an effective chemopreventive agent for the prevention of gastric cancer metastasis.


18β-glycyrrhetinic acid Migration Invasion Gastric cancer ROS 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest in this work.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy and Springer Japan KK 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gastrointestinal SurgerySecond Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Center of Molecular Medicine and Cancer ResearchChongqing Medical UniversityChongqingChina

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