The anti-cancer effect and mechanism of animal scale-derived extract on malignant melanoma cells

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Melanoma is a type of cancer with abnormal proliferation of melanocytes and is one of the most diagnosed cancer types. In traditional Chinese medicine, pangolin scales have been used to treat various diseases, including human cancers. However, its efficacy has not been scientifically proven. Here we studied the anticancer effect and mechanism of pangolin scale extract (PSE) on melanoma cell lines using scientific approaches. Our cell viability assay shows that PSE exhibits up to approximately 50–80% inhibition on SK-MEL-103 and A375 melanoma cell lines. Mechanically, PSE inhibits melanoma cell proliferation, migration, and causes changes in cell morphology. The apoptosis assay showed a significant chromosomal condensation inside the PSE-treated melanoma cells. The sequencing and analysis of A375 melanoma cell transcriptomes revealed 3077 differentially expressed genes in the 6 h treatment group and 8027 differentially expressed genes in the 72 h treatment group. Transcriptome analysis suggests that PSE may cause cell cycle arrest in melanoma cells and promote apoptosis mainly by up-regulating the p53 signaling pathway and down-regulating the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway. In this study, the anticancer effect of PSE was demonstrated by molecular biological means. PSE shows a significant inhibition effect on melanoma cell proliferation and cell migration in vitro, causes cell cycle arrest and promotes apoptosis through p53 and PI3K-AKT pathways. This study provides better insights into the anti-cancer efficacy and underlying mechanism of PSE and a theoretical basis for mining anticancer compounds or the development of new treatments for melanoma in the future. It is worth noting that this study does not advocate the use of the pangolin scale for disease treatment, but only to confirm its usefulness from a scientific research perspective and to encourage subsequent research around the development of active compounds to replace pangolin scales to achieve the conservation of this endangered species.

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Scientific Reports



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