A rare subpopulation of cancer cells, termed cancer stem cells (CSCs), may be responsible for tumor relapse and resistance to conventional chemotherapy. The development of a non-toxic, natural treatment for the elimination of CSCs is considered a strategy for cancer treatment with minimal side effects. In the present study, the potential for Sasa quelpaertensis
leaf extract (SQE) and its two bioactive compounds, tricin and p
-coumaric acid, to exert anti-CSC effects by suppressing cancer stemness characteristics were evaluated in colon cancer cells. CD133+
cells were isolated from HT29 and HCT116 cell lines using flow-activated cell sorting (FACs). SQE treatment was found to significantly suppress the self-renewal capacity of both cell lines. SQE treatment was also associated with the down-regulation of β-catenin and phosphorylated GSK3β, while significantly enhancing cell differentiation by up-regulating CK20 expression and blocking the expression of several stem cell markers, including DLK1, Notch1, and Sox-2. In vivo
, SQE supplementation suppressed tumor growth in a xenograft model by down-regulating stem cell markers and β-catenin as well as HIF-1α signaling. Compared with two bioactive compounds of SQE, SQE exhibited the most effective anti-CSC properties. Taken together, these results provide evidence that SQE inhibits colon cancer by regulating the characteristics of CSCs.
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