The chloroform extract of Physalis minima produced a significant growth inhibition against human T-47D breast carcinoma cells as compared with other extracts with an EC(50) value of 3.8 microg/mL. An analysis of cell death mechanisms indicated that the extract elicited an apoptotic cell death. mRNA expression analysis revealed the coregulation of apoptotic genes, that is, c-myc , p53, and caspase-3. The c-myc was significantly induced by the chloroform extract at the earlier phase of treatment, followed by p53 and caspase-3. Biochemical assay and ultrastructural observation displayed typical apoptotic features in the treated cells, including DNA fragmentation, blebbing and convolution of cell membrane, clumping and margination of chromatin, and production of membrane-bound apoptotic bodies. The presence of different stages of apoptotic cell death and phosphatidylserine externalization were further reconfirmed by annexin V and propidium iodide staining. Thus, the results from this study strongly suggest that the chloroform extract of P. minima induced apoptotic cell death via p53-, caspase-3-, and c-myc-dependent pathways.
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