In Vivo. 2005 Jan-Feb;19(1):93-102

In Vivo. 2005 Jan-Feb;19(1):93-102

Induction of apoptosis in human colon cancer HCT116 cells treated with an extract of the plant product, Chios mastic gum.


Balan KV, Demetzos C, Prince J, Dimas K, Cladaras M, Han Z, Wyche JH, Pantazis P.


Department of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33146, USA.



A hexane extract of the plant product Chios mastic gum (He-CMG) is demonstrated to kill human colon cancer cells in vitro via the process of anoikis. Specifically, the sequence of events includes He-CMG-induced GI-arrest of the cells, detachment of the cells from the substrate and subsequent apoptosis. Anoikis is dependent on the concentration and duration of treatment with He-CMG. Presence of the pan-caspase inhibitor, Z-VAD-fmk, did not prevent cell detachment, but it did prevent apoptosis of the detached cells indicating that the process of cell detachment, but not apoptosis, is independent of caspase activation. He-CMG-induced apoptosis is associated with activation of the initiator caspases-8, and -9 and the effector caspase-3. Caspases are activated in cells at a relatively long time after detachment, and caspase-3 activation may require caspase-8 or caspase-9 activation, as determined by using HCT116 isogenic clones impaired in apoptosis mechanisms that involve these two caspases. Finally, electron microscopy observations indicated a time-dependent appearance of morphological features both typical and non-typical of apoptosis in cells treated with He-CMG for various periods of time. Taken together, the results demonstrated that He-CMG induces apoptosis in HCT116 cells and, therefore, further in vivo and in vitro studies of the anticancer activities of this plant product are warranted.