Urtica dioica Extract Inhibits Proliferation and Induces Apoptosis and Related Gene Expression of Breast Cancer Cells In Vitro and In Vivo

Published:April 20, 2017DOI:



      Currently, because the prevalence of breast cancer and its consequent mortality has increased enormously in the female population, a number of studies have been designed to identify natural products with special antitumor properties. The main purpose of the present study was to determine the effect of Urtica dioica on triggering apoptosis and diminishing growth, size, and weight of the tumor in an allograft model of BALB/c mice.

      Materials and Methods

      In the present study, a BALB/c mouse model of breast cancer (4T1) was used. After emergence of tumor, 2 groups of mice received the extract, 1 group at a dose of 10 mg/kg and 1 group at a dose of 20 mg/kg, by intraperitoneal injection for 28 days. During the test and after removal of the tumor mass, the size and weight of the tumor were measured. To assess the induction of apoptosis in the cancer cells, the TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling) assay was performed. The Ki-67 test was used to evaluate tumor proliferation.


      The results showed that the tumor size in the mice treated with the extract decreased significantly. The weight of the tumor mass in the treated mice after resection was less than that in the control group. The TUNEL assay findings revealed that apoptosis occurred in the treated group. The Ki-67 test findings also demonstrated that administration of the extract suppressed the growth of tumor cells.


      These results suggest that U. dioica extract can decrease the growth of breast tumors and induce apoptosis in tumor cells; thus, it might represent an ideal therapeutic tool for breast cancer.


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