• Anti-proliferation;
  • Apoptosis;
  • Human hepatocellular carcinoma cells;
  • IH-901;
  • SMMC7721


20-O-(β-d-glucopyranosyl)-20(S)-protopanaxadiol (IH-901), a novel intestinal bacterial metabolite of ginseng protopanaxadiol saponins, is reported to induce apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells. We purified the compound and measured its in vitro anti-tumor activity. IH-901 inhibited cell growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma SMMC7721 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. We also found that IH-901 induced apoptotic cell death concurrent with cell cycle arrest in G0–G1 phase in SMMC7721 cells. At the molecular level, we show that IH-901 upregulates cytochrome c, p53, and Bax expression, and downregulates pro-caspase-3 and pro-caspase-9 expressions in a dose-dependent manner, while the levels of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL were unchanged in IH-901-treated SMMC7721 cells. These results provide significant insight into the anticarcinogenic action of IH-901.