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Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecological malignancies and the five-year death rate of patients has remained high in the past five decades. Recently, with the rise of cancer stem cells (CSCs) theory, an increasing amount of research has suggested that CSCs give rise to tumor recurrence and metastasis. Theasaponin E1 (TSE1), which was isolated from green tea (Camellia sinensis) seeds, has been proposed to be an effective compound for tumor treatment. However, studies on whether TSE1 takes effect through CSCs have rarely been reported. In this paper, ALDH-positive (ALDH+) ovarian cancer stem-like cells from two platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cell lines A2780/CP70 and OVCAR-3 were used to study the anti-proliferation effect of TSE1 on CSCs. The ALDH+ cells showed significantly stronger sphere forming vitality and stronger cell migration capability. In addition, the stemness marker proteins CD44, Oct-4, Nanog, as well as Bcl-2 and MMP-9 expression levels of ALDH+ cells were upregulated compared with the original tumor cells, indicating that they have certain stem cell characteristics. At the same time, the results showed that TSE1 could inhibit cell proliferation and suspension sphere formation in ALDH+ cells. Our data suggests that TSE1 as a natural compound has the potential to reduce human ovarian cancer mortality. However, more research is still needed to find out the molecular mechanism of TSE1-mediated inhibition of ALDH+ cells and possible drug applications on the disease.

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Jia L-Y, Xia H-L, Chen Z-D, et al. Anti-Proliferation Effect of Theasaponin E1 on the ALDH-Positive Ovarian Cancer Stem-Like Cells. Molecules. 2018;23(6):1469. doi:10.3390/molecules23061469