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

Kannan V. Balan, Costas Demetzos, Jeffrey Prince, Konstantine Dimas, Margarita Cladaras, Zhiyong Han, James H. Wyche, Panayotis Pantazis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


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 G1-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 pancaspase 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Chios mastic gum
  • Colon cancer cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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