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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 835796, 9 pages
Research Article

Pfaffosidic Fraction from Hebanthe paniculata Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Caspase-3-Induced Apoptosis in HepG2 Cells

1Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of São Paulo, Avenida Prof. Dr. Orlando Marques de Paiva 87, Cidade Universitária, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
2School of Pindamonhangaba, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso 3344, Campo Alegre, 12420-010 Pindamonhangaba, SP, Brazil
3Section of Pharmacology, Division of Animal Biology, Biological Institute of São Paulo, Avenida Conselheiro Rodrigues Alves 1.252, Vila Mariana, 04014-002 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 14 January 2015; Revised 26 March 2015; Accepted 17 April 2015

Academic Editor: Chong-Zhi Wang

Copyright © 2015 Tereza Cristina da Silva 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.


Hebanthe paniculata roots (formerly Pfaffia paniculata and popularly known as Brazilian ginseng) show antineoplastic, chemopreventive, and antiproliferative properties. Functional properties of these roots and their extracts are usually attributed to the pfaffosidic fraction, which is composed mainly by pfaffosides A–F. However, the therapeutic potential of this fraction in cancer cells is not yet entirely understood. This study aimed to analyze the antitumoral effects of the purified pfaffosidic fraction or saponinic fraction on the human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cell line. Cellular viability, proliferation, and apoptosis were evaluated, respectively, by MTT assay, BrdU incorporation, activated caspase-3 immunocytochemistry, and DNA fragmentation assay. Cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry and the cell cycle-related proteins were analyzed by quantitative PCR and Western blot. The cells exposed to pfaffosidic fraction had reduced viability and cellular growth, induced G2/M at 48 h or S at 72 h arrest, and increased sub-G1 cell population via cyclin E downregulation, overexpression, and caspase-3-induced apoptosis, without affecting the DNA integrity. Antitumoral effects of pfaffosidic fraction from H. paniculata in HepG2 cells originated by multimechanisms of action might be associated with cell cycle arrest in the S phase, by CDK2 and cyclin E downregulation and overexpression, besides induction of apoptosis through caspase-3 activation.