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Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides Induce Apoptosis in Human Prostate Cancer Cells and Inhibits Prostate Cancer Growth in a Xenograft Mouse Model of Human Prostate Cancer

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum, wolfberry) grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are in the nightshade (Solonaceae) family. Goji berries are usually found dried. They are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as Beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to: protect the liver, help eyesight, improve sexual function and fertility, strengthen the legs, boost immune function, improve circulation, and to promote longevity.

Luo Q, Li Z, Yan J, Zhu F, Xu RJ, Cai YZ. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells and inhibits prostate cancer growth in a xenograft mouse model of human prostate cancer. 1. J Med Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):695-703.

Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs) are important functional constituents in red-colored fruits of L. barbarum (Guo Qi Zi, a well-known traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as goji berry or wolfberry). The influence of LBP on human prostate cancer cells was systematically investigated in vitro and in vivo. The in vitro effects of LBP on two cell lines (PC-3 and DU-145) were examined by using trypan blue exclusion staining, single-cell gel electrophoresis, flow cytometry, terminal dUTP nick-end labeling assay, and immunohistochemical assay (assessment of Bcl-2 and Bax expression). The in vivo effect of LBP on PC-3 cells was assessed in the nude mouse xenograft tumor model. The in vitro results showed that LBP can dose- and time-dependently inhibit the growth of both PC-3 and DU-145 cells. LBP caused the breakage of DNA strands of PC-3 and DU-145 cells; the tail frequency and tail length were significantly higher than that of control cells. LBP also markedly induced PC-3 and DU-145 cell apoptosis, with the highest apoptosis rates at 41.5% and 35.5%, respectively. The ratio of Bcl-2/Bax protein expression following LBP treatments decreased significantly with a dose-effect relationship, which suggested that LBP can regulate the expression of Bcl-2 and Bax to induce apoptosis of PC-3 and DU-145 cells. The in vivo experimental results indicate that LBP might significantly inhibit PC-3 tumor growth in nude mice. Both the tumor volume and weight of the LBP treatment group were significantly lower than those of the control group.