BACKGROUND: Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP), isolated with boiling water from the famous Chinese medicinal herb Lycium barbarum fruits, is one of the most important functional constituents in Lycium barbarum. In this study the effects of LBP on cell proliferation, cell cycle and apoptosis in human cervical carcinoma cells (HeLa cells) were investigated. RESULTS: LBP could inhibit the proliferation of HeLa cells by changing cell cycle distribution and inducing apoptosis. In addition, the loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential (??(m) ) was observed by flow cytometry and the increase of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration was detected by laser scanning confocal microscope in apoptotic cells. At the same time, the nitric oxide content, nitric oxide synthase and inducible nitric oxide synthase activities were also increased. CONCLUSION: The inhibitory effect of LBP on the proliferation of HeLa cells was caused by inducing apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway. The results showed that LBP can be developed as a potential chemotherapeutic agent candidate against human cervical cancer. Copyright ? 2012 Society of Chemical Industry.
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