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Keto- and acetyl-keto-boswellic acids inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in Hep G2 cells via a caspase-8 dependent pathway.

  • Jian-Jun Liu
  • Åke Nilsson
  • Stina Oredsson
  • Vladimir Badmaev
  • Rui-Dong Duan
Publishing year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 501-505
Publication/Series: International Journal of Molecular Medicine
Volume: 10
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: D.A. Spandidos

Abstract english

Boswellic acids are the compounds isolated from the gum resin of Boswellia serrata and have been used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases for many years in the countries of the east. Recently, a few studies showed that the acids may have anti-cancer effect on leukemia and brain tumours. We investigated the apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects of two types of boswellic acids, keto-beta-boswellic acid and acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid, on liver cancer Hep G2 cells. After treating the cells with the boswellic acids, cell proliferation, DNA synthesis, and apoptosis were analysed. The activities of caspase-3, -8 and -9 were assayed. To explore the apoptotic pathway, specific caspase inhibitors were employed. It was found that boswellic acids decreased cell viability and [3H]thymidine incorporation, checked the cells in the G1 phase, and increased percentage of sub-G1. Boswellic acids strongly induced apoptosis accompanied by activation of caspase-3, -8 and -9. The apoptosis was blocked completely by caspase-8 or caspase-3 inhibitor, but inhibited partly by caspase-9 inhibitor. However, these caspase inhibitors did not show any effect on the alternations of cell viability caused by boswellic acids. In conclusion, boswellic acids have anti-proliferation and anti-cancer effects on Hep G2 cells. The apoptotic effect is mediated by a pathway dependent on caspase-8 activation. The acids may be a promising drug for the chemoprevention of liver cancer.


  • Other Clinical Medicine
  • boswellic acids
  • apoptosis
  • caspase
  • proliferation
  • liver cancer


  • ISSN: 1791-244X
Stina Oredsson
E-mail: stina [dot] oredsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 94 97



Principal investigator

LUCC - Lund University Cancer Centre

Research group

Animal Physiology


Cell proliferation

Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD Students, main supervisor

Wendy Soria Sotillo

PhD Students, assistant supervisor

Atena Malakpour Permlid