Melandryum firmum is a biennial plant that has been used in traditional medicine for treatment of bacterial and fungal infection. Here, we investigated molecular mechanisms underlying apoptotic effects of Melandryum firmum root extract (MFRE) in neuroblastoma cells, since the effect of this natural compound on cancer cells has not been fully clarified. The root extract of M. firmum reduced cell proliferation, as revealed by cell viability assay. However, MFRE-treated cells exhibited morphological changes including cell rounding, neurite retraction and membrane blebbing. These alterations of cellular shape suggest this morphological change might be due to the apoptosis which shows fragmented DNA. In addition, MFRE up-regulated the pro-apoptotic protein Bax and down-regulated the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and Mcl-1, which also finally activated cleaved caspase-3 in a dose-dependent manner, as determined by western blot analyses. Together, these findings demonstrate that apoptotic and cytotoxic effects of MFRE on SH-SY5Y cells are mediated by intrinsic mitochondria-mediated caspase pathway and that this natural extract might be effective as an anticancer agent for neuroblastoma malignancies.
Keywords: Melandryum firmum, neuroblastoma, apoptosis, caspase, anticancer