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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 402385, 10 pages
Research Article

Auraptene, a Major Compound of Supercritical Fluid Extract of Phalsak (Citrus Hassaku Hort ex Tanaka), Induces Apoptosis through the Suppression of mTOR Pathways in Human Gastric Cancer SNU-1 Cells

1Subtropical Horticulture Research Institute, Jeju National University, Jeju 690-756, Republic of Korea
2Faculty of Biotechnology, College of Applied Life Science, SARI, Jeju National University, Jeju 690-756, Republic of Korea

Received 19 April 2015; Revised 21 June 2015; Accepted 15 July 2015

Academic Editor: Brett Froeliger

Copyright © 2015 Jeong Yong Moon 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.


The supercritical extraction method is a widely used process to obtain volatile and nonvolatile compounds by avoiding thermal degradation and solvent residue in the extracts. In search of phytochemicals with potential therapeutic application in gastric cancer, the supercritical fluid extract (SFE) of phalsak (Citrus hassaku Hort ex Tanaka) fruits was analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Compositional analysis in comparison with the antiproliferative activities of peel and flesh suggested auraptene as the most prominent anticancer compound against gastric cancer cells. SNU-1 cells were the most susceptible to auraptene-induced toxicity among the tested gastric cancer cell lines. Auraptene induced the death of SNU-1 cells through apoptosis, as evidenced by the increased cell population in the sub-G1 phase, the appearance of fragmented nuclei, the proteolytic cleavage of caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) protein, and depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane. Interestingly, auraptene induces an increase in the phosphorylation of Akt, which is reminiscent of the effect of rapamycin, the mTOR inhibitor that triggers a negative feedback loop on Akt/mTOR pathway. Taken together, these findings provide valuable insights into the anticancer effects of the SFE of the phalsak peel by revealing that auraptene, the major compound of it, induced apoptosis in accompanied with the inhibition of mTOR in SNU-1 cells.