The induction of apoptosis and autophagy by Wasabia japonica extract in colon cancer



Wasabia japonica (wasabi) has been shown to exhibit properties of detoxification, anti-inflammation and the induction of apoptosis in cancer cells. This study aimed to investigate the molecular mechanism of the cytotoxicity of wasabi extract (WE) in colon cancer cells to evaluate the potential of wasabi as a functional food for chemoprevention.


Colo 205 cells were treated with different doses of WE, and the cytotoxicity was analyzed by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide. Apoptosis and autophagy were detected by 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, 5,5′,6,6′-tetrachloro-1,1′,3,3′-tetraethyl-imidacarbo-yanine iodide and staining for acidic vascular organelles (AVOs), along with Western blotting.


The results demonstrated that WE induced the extrinsic pathway and mitochondrial death machinery through the activation of TNF-α, Fas-L, caspases, truncated Bid and cytochrome C. WE also induced autophagy by decreasing the phosphorylation of Akt and mTOR and promoting the expression of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-II and AVO formation. An in vivo xenograft model verified that tumor growth was delayed by WE treatment.


Our studies revealed that WE exhibits anti-colon cancer properties through the induction of apoptosis and autophagy. These results provide support for the application of WE as a chemopreventive functional food and as a prospective treatment of colon cancer.

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This study was supported by the Grants from the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC 99-2632-B-040-001-MY3 and NSC100-2313-B-040-002-MY3).

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The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Jing-Hsien Chen or Fen-Pi Chou.

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Hsuan, SW., Chyau, CC., Hung, HY. et al. The induction of apoptosis and autophagy by Wasabia japonica extract in colon cancer. Eur J Nutr 55, 491–503 (2016).

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  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Colon cancer
  • RAD001
  • Wasabia japonica