Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2016

Academic Department


Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Jane Cavender


Echinacea, a commonly used herbal supplement, is publicized for its antioxidant and immunostimulatory properties. It has been used to treat the common cold and upper respiratory infections but has more recently been touted as a potential target for chemotherapeutic treatment. Echinacea is believed to work through the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CBR2), a G-protein coupled receptor primarily expressed in inflammatory and immune-competent cells. Activation of CBR2 is believed to induce the MAPK pathway as well as increase levels of cAMP. Recent research has shown tumor expression of CBR2 which has been correlated to a decreased patient prognosis though the cellular pathway has not yet been elucidated. This study was designed to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between Echinacea, the cell cycle and CBR2. To assess the effect of Echinacea on cell growth, HeLa and human diploid fibroblast (HDF) cells were seeded and treated for 24 hours with 0, 25, 50 or 100 ug/ml of the water solubilized extract. The effect on cyclin A, cyclin E levels was assessed using the luciferase reporter assay. Additionally the presence of the CBR2 receptor was determined by using immunofluorescence and immunoblot analysis. Our results show that cyclin activity appeared to be positively correlated to tumor cell proliferation following increased treatments of Echinacea. Expression of CBR2 was visualized using immunofluorescence and accumulated protein levels were assessed by imunoblot analysis. CBR2 was detected in both cell lines at varying levels. With these results it is hypothesized that the Echinacea may be activating CBR2 and inducing the MAPK pathway. In turn, the MAPK pathway activated the cyclins and caused increased cell proliferation.


Senior Thesis.

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