F16 is a plant-derived pharmacologically active fraction extracted from Eurycoma longifolia Jack. Previously, we have reported that F16 inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells by inducing apoptotic cell death while having some degree of cytoselectivity on a normal human breast cell line, MCF-10A. In this study, we attempted to further elucidate the mode of action of F16. We found that the intrinsic apoptotic pathway was invoked, with the reduction of Bcl-2 protein. Then, executioner caspase-7 was cleaved and activated in response to F16 treatment. Furthermore, apoptosis in the MCF- 7 cells was accompanied by the specific proteolytic cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1). Surprisingly, caspase-9 and p53 were unchanged with F16 treatment. We believe that the F16-induced apoptosis in MCF-7 cells occurs independently of caspase-9 and p53. Taken together, these results suggest that F16 from E. longifolia exerts anti-proliferative action and growth inhibition on MCF-7 cells through apoptosis induction and that it may have anticancer properties.
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