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We provide evidence for the first time, that two natural compounds ginsenoside Rh2 (G-Rh2) and betulinic acid (Bet A) synergistically induce apoptosis in human cervical adenocarcinoma (HeLa), human lung cancer A549, and human hepatoma HepG2 cells. G-Rh2 and Bet A cooperated to induce Bax traslocation to mitochondria and cytochrome c release. Co-treatment of G-Rh2 and Bet A resulted in enhanced cleavage of caspase-8 and Bid. Moreover, specific inhibition of caspase-8 by siRNA technology effectively reduced caspase-9 processing, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, caspase-3 activation, and apoptosis in co-treated cells, which indicated that the caspase-8 feedback amplification pathway may have been involved in the apoptosis process. A previous study has shown that G-Rh2 induces cancer cell apoptosis via a Bcl-2 and/or Bcl-xL-independent mechanism, and Bet A induces apoptosis mainly through a mitochondrial pathway with tumor specificity. Since the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL are frequently overexpressed in human cancer cells, combined treatment with G-Rh2 and Bet A may be a novel strategy to enhance efficacy of anticancer therapy. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.