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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 965016, 14 pages
Research Article

Seed Oil of Brucea javanica Induces Apoptotic Death of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells via Both the Death Receptors and the Mitochondrial-Related Pathways

1Department of Pharmacology, Key Laboratory of New Drug Screening of Liaoning Province, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang 110016, China
2Department of Hematology, Shenyang Military General Hospital, Shenyang 110016, China

Received 22 January 2011; Accepted 21 March 2011

Copyright © 2011 Hong Zhang 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.


Seed oil of Brucea javanica (BJO) is extracted from the seeds of herb medicine Brucea javanica (L.), and its emulsion formulation (BJOE) has been used clinically to treat carcinomas for many years in China. The antileukemia potential of BJO was investigated in human acute myeloid leukemia cell lines (AML) U937 and HL-60 in vitro and in a mouse U937 xenograft tumor model. BJO induced AML cell apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 and modulation of apoptosis-related proteins. Meanwhile, the inhibition of survivin and XIAP increased the cytotoxicity of BJO. Consistent with these findings, BJO also increased subG1 phase cells and cause PARP cleavage in AML patients' leukemia cells. In contrast, only weak cytotoxicity of BJO was found in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) of healthy volunteers. Moreover, oleic acid and linoleic acid were found to be the active components of BJO. Our study provided strong evidence for the first time that BJO induced apoptosis of both cultured and primary AML cells. Furthermore, intravenous injection of BJO significantly inhibited U937 tumor growth in the xenograft mouse model. These results suggest that BJO may have a therapeutic role in the treatment of human leukemia.