Scientists study a traditional Chinese herbal medicine for its potential anticancer effects

Compound Muniziqi granule (MNZQ) has been used in China as a treatment for various conditions related to hormones and the endocrine system. A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine investigates a compound present in one of its ingredients and examines the chemical’s ability to cause apoptosis and autophagy in B16 cancer cells.

  • MNZQ is composed of ingredients taken from 13 plants: Peganum harmala, Cichorium intybus, Dracocephalum moldavica, Ocimum basilicum, Althaea rosea, Nigella glandulifera, Pimpinella anisum, Apium graveolens, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Cichorium intybus, Foeniculum vulgare, Matricaria chamomilla, and Cymbopogon caesius. The researchers were interested in harmine, a compound found in P. harmala.
  • They prepared a culture of B16-F-10 melanoma cells (B16 cells), which they treated with herb extracts, MNZQ (60 mg/mL), harmine, harmaline, harmane, and harmol (50, 100, 150, 200 micrometers) over 24 hours.
  • The researchers determined cell viability using CCK8 assay, harmine-induced autophagy via electron microscopy and MDC staining, and cell death and cell cycle distribution using flow cytometry. Protein expression and tyrosinase activity were measured using Western blot and spectrophotometry respectively.
  • Autophagy was confirmed by the presence of autophagosome and the degeneration of p62 in the B16 cells. This was attributed to the inhibition of the phosphorylation of Akt and mTOR. The resulting cell death proved that harmine could also induce apoptosis. However, MNZQ and certain herbal extracts showed none of the inhibitory properties on mushroom tyrosinase¬†showed by kojic acid.

The researchers confirmed that harmine does have the ability to induce autophagy and apoptosis in skin cancer cells by inhibiting the Akt/mTOR pathway, making it a potential treatment for melanoma.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

Learn more about cancer treatments at

Journal Reference:

Zou N, Wei Y, Li F, Yang Y, Cheng X, Wang C. THE INHIBITORY EFFECTS OF COMPOUND MUNIZIQI GRANULE AGAINST B16 CELLS AND HARMINE INDUCED AUTOPHAGY AND APOPTOSIS BY INHIBITING AKT/MTOR PATHWAY. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2 December 2017;17(517). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-017-2017-4

comments powered by Disqus