Background: Triptolide, extracted from the herb Tripteryglum wilfordii Hook.f that has long been used as anatural medicine in China, has attracted much interest for its anti-cancer effects against some kinds of tumoursin recent years. Artesunate, extracted from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua, has proven to be effective andsafe as an anti-malarial drug that possesses anticancer potential. The present study attempted to clarify iftriptolide enhances artesunate-induced cytotoxicity in pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo.
Methods:In vitro, to test synergic actions, cell viability and apoptosis were analyzed after treatment of pancreatic cancercell lines with the two agents singly or in combination. The molecular mechanisms of apoptotic effects were alsoexplored using qRT-PCR and Western blotting. In vivo, a tumor xenograft model was established in nude mice,for assessment of inhibitory effects of triptolide and artesunate.
Results: We could show that the combinationof triptolide and artesunate could inhibit pancreatic cancer cell line growth, and induce apoptosis, accompaniedby expression of HSP 20 and HSP 27, indicating important roles in the synergic effects. Moreover, tumor growthwas decreased with triptolide and artesunate synergy.
Conclusion: Our result indicated that triptolide andartesunate in combination at low concentrations can exert synergistic anti-tumor effects in pancreatic cancercells with potential clinical applications.