, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 1461–1472 | Cite as

The induction of apoptosis and autophagy in human hepatoma SMMC-7721 cells by combined treatment with vitamin C and polysaccharides extracted from Grifola frondosa

  • Fei Zhao
  • Jin Zhao
  • Lei Song
  • Ya-Qing Zhang
  • Zhong Guo
  • Ke-Hu Yang
Original Paper


Polysaccharides extracted from the mushroom Grifola frondosa (GFP) are a potential anticancer agent. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of GFP and vitamin C (VC) alone and in combination on the viability of human hepatocarcinoma SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells. Studies designed to detect cell apoptosis and autophagy were also conducted to investigate the mechanism. Results from the cell viability assay indicated that a combination of GFP (0.2 or 0.25 mg/mL) and VC (0.3 mmol/L) (GFP/VC) led to 52.73 and 53.93% reduction in cell viability of SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells separately after 24 h. Flow cytometric analysis indicated that GFP/VC treatment induced cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase, and apoptosis occurred in approximately 43.62 and 42.46% of the SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells separately. Moreover, results of Hoechst33258 and monodansylcadaverine staining, and transmission electron microscopy, showed that GFP/VC induced apoptosis and autophagy in SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells. Western blot analysis showed changes in the expression of apoptosis-related proteins [upregulation of BAX and caspase-3, downregulation of Bcl-2, and activation of poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase] and autophagy protein markers (upregulation of beclin-1 and microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B light chain-3). We also demonstrated that the expression of both Akt and p-Akt was enhanced, suggesting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway might not be involved in this process. Our study shows that the combined application of GFP and VC induced cell apoptosis and autophagy in vitro, and might have antitumor activity in vivo.


Anticancer Apoptosis Autophagy Grifola frondosa Vitamin C Hepatoma 



Polysaccharides from Grifola frondosa


Hepatocellular carcinoma


50% inhibitory concentration


3-(4,5-Dimethythiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphe-nyl-tetrazolium bromide


Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium


Microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3




Vitamin C


Phosphate buffered saline


Phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase





This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities from Northwest Minzu University, China (Nos. 31920140070, 31920160009), The Science and Technology Project of Lanzhou City, China (No. 2016-3-37). And The National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560254; 81260442).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jin Zhao
    • 1
  • Lei Song
    • 1
  • Ya-Qing Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhong Guo
    • 1
  • Ke-Hu Yang
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of MedicineNorthwest Minzu UniversityLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Evidence-Based Medicine Center, School of Basic Medical SciencesLanzhou UniversityLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Evidence Based Medicine and Knowledge Translation of Gansu ProvinceLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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