Hypericin Induces Apoptosis in AGS Cell Line with No Significant Effect on Normal Cells

It is of great importance to find an effective approach that not only eliminates gastric cancer cells but also do exhibits significant side effect to normal cells. Some studies have shown the effectiveness of hypericin against cancer cells. In this study, we evaluated the anti-cancer effect of Hypericin in the treatment of gastric cancer. In this study, the AGS cell line was exposed to different concentrations of hypericin for 24 and 48 h. Evaluation of cell death was done by MTT assay. The rate of apoptosis was measured by flow cytometry assay using Annexin V/ Propidium Iodide. The expression rate of Bcl2, p53 and Bax genes was evaluated by Real-time PCR test, and immunocytochemistry (ICC) analysis and western blotting was used for further evaluation of p53. MTT assay test showed that hyepricin induces 50% cell death in the concentration of 1 (µg/mL) and 0.5 (µg/mL) at 24 h and 48 h post-treatment, respectively, however no similar effect seen on fibroblast cells. Annexin/PI test revealed that cell apoptosis after exposure to hypericin for 24 h was 74%. Real-time PCR showed that expression level of Bax, p53 and Bax genes increases and Bcl2 gene decreases in AGS cell lines after treatment by hypericin. ICC analysis and western blotting for p53 confirmed these data. The results of this study indicated that hypericin has the potential to be introduced as an effective treatment for gastric cancer. Therefore, it seems that this substance has potential to be utilized as anti-cancer drug.