Distinct Pro-Apoptotic Properties of Zhejiang Saffron against Human Lung Cancer Via a Caspase-8-9-3 Cascade


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Here we investigated the antitumor effect and mechanism of Zhejiang (Huzhou and Jiande) saffron against lung cancer cell lines, A549 and H446. Using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), the contents of crocin Ⅰ and Ⅱ were determined. In vitro, MTT assay and annexin-V FITC/PI staining showed cell proliferation activity and apoptosis to be changed in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The inhibition effect of Jiande saffron was the strongest. In vivo, when mice were orally administered saffron extracts at dose of 100mg/kg/d for 28 days, xenograft tumor size was reduced, and ELISA and Western blotting analysis of caspase-3, -8 and -9 exhibited stronger expression and activity than in the control. In summary, saffron from Zhejiang has significant antitumor effects in vitro and in vivo through caspase-8-caspase-9-caspase-3 mediated cell apoptosis. It thus appears to have more potential as a therapeutic agent.