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Journal of Cancer Prevention


Journal of Korean Association of Cancer prevention 2002; 7(2): 127-133

Published online June 30, 2002

© Korean Society of Cancer Prevention

Effect of Soybean Saponins on the Growth and Ornithine Decarboxylase Activity of Normal Colon Epithelial Cells and Colon Adenocarcinoma Cells

Sung-Eun Kim, Hye-Seung Jun1 and Mi-Kyung Sung


Epidemiological studies have observed a negative association between increased soybean consumption and colon cancer incidence. Among several biologically active components in soybeans, saponins are reported to possess anticarcinogenic activity. The objective of the present study was to investigate a possible mechanism of anticarcinogenic activity of soybean saponins by measuring ornithine decarboxylase (ODC)-mediated colon cancer cell (HT-29) growth inhibition and to examine if soybean saponins possess a selective growth inhibition against cancer cells. Colon adenocarcinoma cells (HT-29) and normal colon epithelial cells (CCD-18Co) were incubated with soybean saponins for 72 hrs. Cell growth was measured by cell count using a hemocytometer, and cellular ODC activity was measured by radio-labelled ornithine quantification. Saponins at a concentrations of 200, 400, and 800μg/plate inhibited colon cancer cell (HT-29) growth and the ODC activity in a concentration-dependent manner. Also, there was a highly significant correlation (r2=0.79, p<0.0001) between cell growth and ODC activity in colon cancer cell (HT-29). However, saponins did not induce any effect on normal colon cell (CCD-18Co) growth and cellular ODC activity. These results indicate that a possible mechanism by which saponins exert anticarcinogenic activity is to change membrane permeability which include changes in membrane signal transduction pathway reducing ODC synthesis followed by cell growth inhibition. Also, saponins are shown to possess selective toxicity toward cancer cells implying they are ideal candidates for chemotherapeutic agents.

Keywords: Soybean saponins, Colon cancer cell, Normal colon cell, Ornithine decarboxylase, Anticancer agents

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