Objective: Previous studies have demonstrated the utility of the traditional Chinese herb danggui in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Our aim was to examine whether it might similarly be used to treat glioblastoma multiforme. Methods: The lipid-soluble active ingredients of danggui were extracted with acetone (AS-AC) or chlorophenol (AS-CH) and their antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects were studiedin vitro on cultured GBM 8401 cells and in vivoon tumors in nude mice. Results: After a 24-hour treatment, either AS-AC or AS-CH at a lower (50 µg/ml) and a higher concentration (100 µg/ml) significantly inhibited the proliferative activity of GBM 8401 cultured cells by 30–50%, as well as the expression of cathepsin B and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In nude mice, the growth of the tumor was inhibited by 30% by AS-CH or AS-AC (20 mg/kg; p < 0.05) and by 60% by AS-CH or AS-AC (60 mg/kg; p < 0.05). AS-AC and AS-CH also significantly inhibited microvessel formation in the tumors of nude mice. Conclusions: Danggui may inhibit tumor growth by reducing the level of VEGF and the proapoptotic protein, cathepsin B. Thus, danggui may be useful in the treatment of high-grade astrocytomas.
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