Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 865–876 | Cite as

Ethylacetate extract from Tetrastigma hemsleyanum induces apoptosis via the mitochondrial caspase-dependent intrinsic pathway in HepG2 cells

  • Xin Peng
  • Yuan-yuan Zhang
  • Jin Wang
  • Qingyong Ji
Research Article


Ethylacetate extract of Tetrastigma hemsleyanum (EET) has a potent antitumor activity in vitro and in vivo. However, the molecular mechanism underlying EET-induced apoptosis remains elusive. As part of our continuing studies, we investigated the apoptosis mechanism of HepG2 cells exposed to different concentrations of EET in vitro. Confocal laser scanning was used to detect the apoptotic morphological changes. Flow cytometer and inverted fluorescence microscope were used to detect the mitochondrial membrane potential and cytosolic Ca2+ level. Western blotting analysis was used to evaluate the expression of the apoptosis-related proteins. Annexin V/PI staining was used to investigate cell apoptosis. Spectrophotometry was used to detect the activity of caspase family. The results showed that distinct apoptotic morphological changes occurred in HepG2 cells treated by EET. EET caused collapse of mitochondrial membrane potential, elevation of cytosolic Ca2+ level, and evoked release of cytochrome c from mitochondria in a concentration-dependent manner. The apoptosis was accompanied by a significant activation of caspase-3, caspase-9, and the cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, but there was no significant change in either the activity or the expression level of caspase-8. Furthermore, EET-induced apoptosis could be inhibited by caspase-9 inhibitor Z-LEHD–FMK but not by caspase-8 inhibitor Z-IETD–FMK. Taken together, these overall results demonstrated that EET-induced apoptosis of HepG2 cells was mediated by the mitochondrial caspase-dependent intrinsic pathway rather than the death receptor/caspase-8-mediated signaling route.


Tetrastigma hemsleyanum HepG2 cells Apoptosis Caspase Ca2+ 



This work was supported by the traditional Chinese medical science technology research projects of Zhejiang Province (Grant No. 2013ZA119), the public welfare technology research projects of Zhejiang Province (Grant No. 2013C32103), and the agricultural research projects of Ningbo City (Grant No. 2014C10031).

Conflicts of interest


Authors’ contributions

Xin Peng contributed for cell culture, western blotting, and statistical analysis and wrote the manuscript. Yuan-yuan Zhang contributed for the detection of cell apoptosis ratio. Jin Wang contributed for the detection of the apoptotic morphological changes. Qingyong Ji was responsible for the preparation of EET.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin Peng
    • 1
  • Yuan-yuan Zhang
    • 2
  • Jin Wang
    • 3
  • Qingyong Ji
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of BiopharmaceuticalZhejiang Pharmaceutical CollegeNingboChina
  2. 2.Nanjing General Hospital of Nanjing Military CommandNanjingChina
  3. 3.Nanjing Agriculture UniversityNanjingChina

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