Yang P, Jiang Y, Pan Y, Ding X, Rhea P, Ding J, Hawke DH, Felsher D, Narla G, Lu Z, Lee RT. 2019. Mistletoe extract Fraxini inhibits the proliferation of liver cancer by down-regulating c-Myc expression. Scientific reports. 9(1):6428. Pubmed: 31015523 DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-41444-2


Mistletoe (Viscum album) is a type of parasitic plant reported to have anticancer activity including in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the mechanism of mistletoe's anticancer activity, and its effectiveness in treating HCC are not fully understood. We report here that mistletoe extracts, including Fraxini (grown on ash trees) and Iscador Q and M (grown on oak and maple trees), exert strong antiproliferative activity in Hep3B cells, with median inhibitory concentrations (IC) of 0.5 µg/mL, 7.49 µg/mL, and 7.51 µg/mL, respectively. Results of Reversed Phase Proteomic Array analysis (RPPA) suggests that Fraxini substantially down-regulates c-Myc expression in Hep3B cells. Fraxini-induced growth inhibition (at a concentration of 1.25 μg/ml) was less pronounced in c-Myc knockdown Hep3B cells than in control cells. Furthermore, in the Hep3B xenograft model, Fraxini-treated (8 mg/kg body weight) mice had significantly smaller tumors (34.6 ± 11.9 mm) than control mice (161.6 ± 79.4 mm, p < 0.036). Similarly, c-Myc protein expression was reduced in Fraxini treated Hep3B cell xenografts compared to that of control mice. The reduction of c-Myc protein levels in vitro Hep3B cells appears to be mediated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Our results suggest the importance of c-Myc in Fraxini's antiproliferative activity, which warrants further investigation.

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Rich Lee seeks to understand heart failure and metabolic diseases that accompany human aging, and translate that understanding into therapies. Lee is an active clinician, regularly treating patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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