In vivo and in vitro demonstration of herb-drug interference in human breast cancer cells treated with tamoxifen and trastuzumab

Jiun Liang Chen*, Jir You Wang, Yi Fang Tsai, Yi Hsien Lin, Ling Ming Tseng, Wen Chi Chang, Kuan Liang King, Wei Shone Chen, Jen Hwey Chiu, Yi Ming Shyr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: In recent trends, patients with breast cancer seek integrative medical treatment when receiving either hormonal (tamoxifen [Tam]) or target (trastuzumab) therapy. Our previous in vitro studies demonstrated that the Chinese medicine Si-Wu-Tang (SWT) stimulates MCF-7 cell growth via activation of estrogen receptor > and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) signaling. The present study demonstrates herb-drug interference with cell proliferation in tumor-bearing mice treated with SWT and Tam in vivo and with proliferation capacity in breast cancer cells treated with SWT and trastuzumab in vitro. Methods: To assess in vivo SWT + Tam interference, we randomly separated female MCF-7Yimplanted athymic nude mice into five groups, namely, vehicle (n = 11), estradiol (n = 8), SWT (n = 8), Tam (n = 11), and SWT + Tam (n = 8). All mice were killed after 21 days of treatment. Body weight, uterine weight, tumor volume, and tumor weight were measured. To assess in vitro SWT-trastuzumab interference, we cotreated BT-474 and SK-BR-3 breast cancer cells with SWT and trastuzumab. This was followed by (4,5-cimethylthiazol-2-yl)- 2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assays and cell cycle analysis to measure cell proliferation and by Western blot analysis to analyze protein expression in growth-related signal pathways. Results: SWT reversed Tam-induced antiproliferative effects on tumor weight and tumor volume and increased estrogen receptor > and N-cadherin expression in the SWT + TamYtreated group compared with the Tam-treated group. Furthermore, SWT reversed trastuzumab-induced antiproliferative activity in HER2+ cell lines (SK-BR-3 and BT-474) through increased phosphorylation of the cell cycle regulatory protein p27(Kip1) and possibly of the antiapoptosis protein P38. Conclusions: Based on the in vivo and in vitro demonstration of herb-drug interference in breast cancer cells, we conclude that physicians should pay more attention to such interference when treating patients with receptor-positive (estrogen receptorYpositive, progesterone receptorYpositive, or HER2+) breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-654
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Interference
  • Si-Wu-Tang
  • Tamoxifen
  • Trastuzumab


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