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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 946451, 15 pages
Research Article

Active Component of Antrodia cinnamomea Mycelia Targeting Head and Neck Cancer Initiating Cells through Exaggerated Autophagic Cell Death

1Institute of Oral Biology, National Yang-Ming University, No. 155, Section 2, Li-Nong Street, Taipei 11221, Taiwan
2Department of Biotechnology, Hungkuang University, Taichung, Taiwan
3Grape King Inc., Taoyuan County, Taiwan
4Department of Life Science, Fu-Jen University, New Taipei City, Taiwan
5Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
6Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
7Graduate Institute of Chinese Medical Science and Institute of Medical Science, China Medical University, No. 91, Hsueh-Shih Road, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
8Institute of Basic Medical Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
9Department of Health and Nutrition Biotechnology, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan
10Cancer Research Center & Genome Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
11Department of Dentistry, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
12National Yang-Ming University, VGH Genome Research Center, Taipei, Taiwan

Received 20 March 2013; Accepted 8 May 2013

Academic Editor: Yu-Jen Chen

Copyright © 2013 Ching-Wen Chang 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.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a highly lethal cancer. Previously, we identify head and neck cancer initiating cells (HN-CICs), which are highly tumorigenic and resistant to conventional therapy. Therefore, development of drug candidates that effectively target HN-CICs would benefit future head and neck cancer therapy. In this study, we first successfully screened for an active component, named YMGKI-1, from natural products of Antrodia cinnamomea Mycelia (ACM), which can target the stemness properties of HNSCC. Treatment of YMGKI-1 significantly downregulated the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity, one of the characteristics of CIC in HNSCC cells. Additionally, the tumorigenic properties of HNSCC cells were attenuated by YMGKI-1 treatment in vivo. Further, the stemness properties of HN-CICs, which are responsible for the malignancy of HNSCC, were also diminished by YMGKI-1 treatment. Strikingly, YMGKI-1 also effectively suppressed the cell viability of HN-CICs but not normal stem cells. Finally, YMGKI-1 induces the cell death of HN-CICs by dysregulating the exaggerated autophagic signaling pathways. Together, our results indicate that YMGKI-1 successfully lessens stemness properties and tumorigenicity of HN-CICs. These findings provide a new drug candidate from purified components of ACM as an alternative therapy for head and neck cancer in the future.