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Journal of Cancer Prevention

Original Article

J Cancer Prev 2022; 27(4): 239-246

Published online December 30, 2022

© Korean Society of Cancer Prevention

Effects of Sangju Honey on Oral Squamous Carcinoma Cells

Nangwon Yee1,* , Hyeonjin Kim2,* , Eungyung Kim2 , Yong Ho Cha2 , Lei Ma2 , Na Eun Cho2 , Dongwook Kim2 , Chae Yeon Kim2 , Sung-Hyun Kim3 , Zaeyoung Ryoo4,** , Junkoo Yi5,** , Myoung Ok Kim1,2,**

1Department of Animal Biotechnology, 2Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, Kyungpook National University, Sangju, 3Department of Bio-Medical Analysis, Korea Polytechnic College, Nonsan, 4School of Life Science, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, 5Gyeongsangbukdo Livestock Institute Research, Yeongju, Korea

Correspondence to :
Myoung Ok Kim, E-mail:,
Zaeyoung Ryoo, E-mail:,
Junkoo Yi, E-mail:,
*These authors contributed equally to this work as co-first authors.
**These authors contributed equally to this work as co-correspondence authors.

Received: December 6, 2022; Revised: December 27, 2022; Accepted: December 27, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Since ancient times, honey has been used in traditional medicine owing to its pharmacological effects. It possesses anticancer properties. However, the therapeutic implications of Sangju honey in cancer remains unknown. Therefore, we aimed to demonstrate the potential anticancer effects of Sangju honey on human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), particularly focusing on epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and apoptotic and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways. Ca9-22 and YD-10B human OSCC cells were treated with 0.25% or 0.5% Sangju honey, and the cell viability was examined using the Cell Counting Kit-8 assay. Cell morphology studies were conducted to observe morphological changes, and the wound-healing assay was performed to evaluate the proliferation of honey-treated OSCC cells. Western blot analysis was conducted to investigate protein expression related to EMT and apoptotic and MAPK signaling pathways. Sangju honey reduced cell viability, induced morphological changes, and significantly suppressed the proliferation and migration of Ca9-22 and YD-10B cells. The expression of E-cadherin and N-cadherin was increased and decreased, respectively, in both OSCC cell lines. Moreover, Sangju honey stimulated apoptosis by increasing the expression of p21, p53, cleaved caspase 3, and caspase 9. Furthermore, it downregulated the expression of phospho (p)-extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2, p-c-Jun amino-terminal kinase, and p-p38 in Ca9-22 and YD-10B cells. Sangju honey inhibits Ca9-22 and YD-10B cell proliferation by regulating EMT, inducing apoptosis, and suppressing the MAPK signaling pathway. Thus, it is a potential anticancer agent for human OSCC.

Keywords: Sangju honey, Oral squamous cell carcinoma, Cell proliferation, Apoptosis, Mitogen-activated protein kinases


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