Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine

Huaier aqueous extract inhibits stem-like characteristics of MCF7 breast cancer cells via inactivation of hedgehog pathway.

PMID 25077927


The theory of targeting cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) provides novel strategy for cancer treatment. In the present study, we examined the inhibitory effect of Huaier aqueous extract on eradicating breast cancer stem cells and explored the underlying mechanisms. Our data demonstrated that various concentrations of Huaier extract significantly decreased the viabilities, numbers, and sizes of mammospheres. After incubation with Huaier extract for 24 h, the clonogenicity of MCF7 cell line was obviously impaired, along with less holoclones. In addition, Huaier extract reduced the number of cells expressing CD44+/CD24- and decreased the level of stem cell markers (OCT-4, NESTIN, and NANOG). The hedgehog (Hh), notch, and Wnt/β-catenin pathways were essential stem cell signaling pathways involved in regulating CSC renewal and maintenance. We reported that the inhibitory effect of Huaier extract was partly depended on the inactivation of Hh pathway. These findings provided experimental evidence that Huaier extract was a promising therapeutic drug for eliminating the breast cancer stem cells.