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Effects of Bufalin on the Proliferation of Human Choriocarcinoma Cells
  1. Noriyuki Takai, MD, PhD,
  2. Tami Ueda, MD, PhD,
  3. Terukazu Ishii, MD,
  4. Naoko Kira, MD,
  5. Masakazu Nishida, MD, PhD,
  6. Yoshihiro Nishida, MD, PhD,
  7. Kaei Nasu, MD, PhD and
  8. Hisashi Narahara, MD, PhD
  1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oita University Faculty of Medicine, Oita, Japan.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Noriyuki Takai, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oita University Faculty of Medicine, 1-1 Idaigaoka, Hasama-machi, Yufu-shi, Oita 879-5593, Japan. E-mail: takai{at}


Objective: Bufalin is a traditional Chinese medicine, and it induces apoptosis in some lines of human tumor cells.

Methods: We investigated the effect of bufalin in the choriocarcinoma cell line, BeWo. BeWo cells were treated with various concentrations of bufalin, and changes in cell growth, the cell cycle, apoptosis, and related parameters were examined.

Results: An 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay showed that BeWo cells were sensitive to the growth inhibitory effect of bufalin. Cell cycle analysis indicated that exposure to bufalin decreased the proportion of cells in the synthesis phase and increased the proportion in the G0/G1 phases of the cell cycle. Induction of apoptosis was confirmed by annexin V staining of externalized phosphatidylserine and by the loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential. This induction occurred in conjunction with the altered expression of genes related to cell growth, malignant phenotype, and apoptosis.

Conclusions: These results suggest that bufalin may serve as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of choriocarcinoma.

  • Cell cycle
  • Apoptosis
  • Choriocarcinoma
  • Bufalin

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  • This study was supported by a grant (project code FK344 to NT) from the Japan Society of Gynecologic Oncology, a grant-in-aid (No. 21592139 to NT) for scientific research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, and a research fund at the discretion of the president, Oita University.