Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide. The anticancer effect of wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) polysaccharide (LBP) on colon cancer cells is largely unknown. To investigate the growth effect of LBP on human colon cancer cell and its possible mechanisms, human colon cancer SW480 and Caco-2 cells were treated with 100-1,000 mg/l LBP for 1-8 days. Cell growth was measured by MTT assay and crystal violet assay. Distribution of the cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry. Western blotting was used to indicate changes in the level of cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). LBP treatment inhibited both colon cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. At concentrations from 400 to 1,000 mg/l, LBP significantly inhibited the growth of SW480 cells (400 mg/l, P < 0.01; 800 and 1,000 mg/l, P < 0.001); while at concentrations from 200 to 1,000 mg/l, LBP significantly inhibited the growth of Caco-2 cells (200 mg/l, P < 0.05; 400-1,000 mg/l, P < 0.001). Crystal violet assay showed that LBP had a long-term anti-proliferative effect. More importantly, cells were arrested at the G0/G1 phase. The changes in cell-cycle-associated protein, cyclins, and CDKs were consistent with the changes in cell-cycle distribution. This is one of the first studies to focus on LBP-induced interruption of the cell cycle in human colon carcinoma cells. The results suggest that LBP is a candidate anticancer agent.
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