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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 841564, 9 pages
Research Article

Effect of Supplementation of Tanshinone IIA and Sodium Tanshinone IIA Sulfonate on the Anticancer Effect of Epirubicin: An In Vitro Study

1Department of Surgical Medicine, Erlin Branch of Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua 526, Taiwan
2Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua 500, Taiwan
3Department and Institute of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 112, Taiwan
4School of Medicine, College of Health Care and Management, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 40201, Taiwan
5School of Nutrition, College of Health Care and Management, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 40201, Taiwan
6Department of Pharmacology, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua 500, Taiwan
7Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacology, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan

Received 9 November 2010; Revised 6 January 2011; Accepted 7 March 2011

Copyright © 2011 Szu-Erh Chan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) and sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate (STS) were found to have protective effects on cardiomyocyte against adriamycin-induced damage and may be used clinically. It is unclear whether the supplementation of STS or Tan IIA would affect the anticancer activity of anthracycline. To evaluate the effect of Tan IIA or STS on the anticancer of epirubicin, the cell viability, apoptosis, Akt expression, and uptake of epirubicin after supplementation of Tan IIA or STS in the epirubicin-treated BT-20 cells were measured and compared. Tan IIA inhibited BT-20 cell growth and induced apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner. When Tan IIA was used with epirubicin, an increase of BT-20 cells apoptosis was accompanied by the decreasing phosphorylation of Akt. STS had no effect on the cell viability of BT-20 cells. However, when used with epirubicin, STS decreased the epirubicin-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis in BT-20 cells. The antagonistic effect of STS on epirubicin-induced cytotoxicity in BT-20 cells occurred concomitantly with the reduced epirubicin uptake and the increased phosphorylation of Akt. STS decreased the uptake of epirubicin in BT-20 cells and blocked epirubicin-induced apoptosis through activation of Akt.