The present study is designed to investigate the anti-oral cancer properties of Solanum nigrum on oral squamous cell carcinoma. S. nigrum is a Chinese herb used for suppression of various cancers. However, the inhibition of S nigrum on oral cancer is unclear. Therefore, human oral squamous cancer cells (SCC)-4 were used to evaluate the effect of aqueous extracts of S nigrum (AESN) on cancer cell proliferation, cell cycle, mitochondrial function and apoptosis. The SCC-4 cells were treated by AESN to evaluate the inhibition of cell proliferation and mitochondrial function in vitro. Our results suggested that AESN markedly increased reactive oxygen species production. AESN also promoted caspase-9 and caspase-3 activation and subsequent triggering of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. The inhibition of glucose uptake was alleviated mediated by a dose-dependent manner in SCC-4 cells with AESN treatment for 24 h, resulting in mitochondrial fission. These results suggested that AESN has potential to be used as a functional food in adjuvant chemotherapy for treating human oral cancer by suppression of mitochondrial function.
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