Synergism of Cytotoxicity Effects of Triptolide and Artesunate Combination Treatment in Pancreatic Cancer Cell Lines

  • Liu, Yao (Department of General Surgery, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University) ;
  • Cui, Yun-Fu (Department of General Surgery, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University)
  • Published : 2013.09.30


Background: Triptolide, extracted from the herb Tripteryglum wilfordii Hook.f that has long been used as a natural medicine in China, has attracted much interest for its anti-cancer effects against some kinds of tumours in recent years. Artesunate, extracted from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua, has proven to be effective and safe as an anti-malarial drug that possesses anticancer potential. The present study attempted to clarify if triptolide 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 cancer cell lines with the two agents singly or in combination. The molecular mechanisms of apoptotic effects were also explored 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 combination of triptolide and artesunate could inhibit pancreatic cancer cell line growth, and induce apoptosis, accompanied by expression of HSP 20 and HSP 27, indicating important roles in the synergic effects. Moreover, tumor growth was decreased with triptolide and artesunate synergy. Conclusion: Our result indicated that triptolide and artesunate in combination at low concentrations can exert synergistic anti-tumor effects in pancreatic cancer cells with potential clinical applications.


Triptolide;artesunate;pancreatic cancer cell lines;cytotoxicity;synergism


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