Mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana
Linn, is a tree found in South East Asia, and its pericarps have been used as traditional medicine. Phytochemical studies have shown that they contain a variety of secondary metabolites, such as oxygenated and prenylated xanthones. Recent studies revealed that these xanthones exhibited a variety of biological activities containing anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-cancer effects. We previously investigated the anti-proliferative effects of four prenylated xanthones from the pericarps; α-mangostin, β-mangostin, γ-mangostin, and methoxy-β-mangostin in various human cancer cells. These xanthones are different in the number of hydroxyl and methoxy groups. Except for methoxy-β-mangostin, the other three xanthones strongly inhibited cell growth at low concentrations from 5 to 20 μM in human colon cancer DLD-1 cells. Our recent study focused on the mechanism of α-mangostin-induced growth inhibition in DLD-1 cells. It was shown that the anti-proliferative effects of the xanthones were associated with cell-cycle arrest by affecting the expression of cyclins, cdc2, and p27; G1 arrest by α- mangostin and β-mangostin, and S arrest by γ-mangostin. α-Mangostin found to induce apoptosis through the activation of intrinsic pathway following the down-regulation of signaling cascades involving MAP kinases and the serine/threonine kinase Akt. Synergistic effects by the combined treatment of α-mangostin and anti-cancer drug 5-FU was to be noted. α-Mangostin was found to have a cancer preventive effect in rat carcinogenesis bioassay and the extract from pericarps, which contains mainly α-mangostin and γ- mangostin, exhibited an enhancement of NK cell activity in a mouse model. These findings could provide a relevant basis for the development of xanthones as an agent for cancer prevention and the combination therapy with anti-cancer drugs.