Hard clams (HCs) are a nutritionally high-quality and popular seafood, and are established to be a potent antitumor food. The aim of the present study was to determine whether HC extracts induce apoptosis in the human gastric cancer cell line, AGS. In contrast with previously reported methods of extraction, crude extracts of HC were obtained by freezing and thawing and by a method free of hot water or organic solvents. The composition, quality and properties of the HC extracts were demonstrated to be stable since the extracts that were evaluated by capillary electrophoresis and HPLC analysis at different timepoints were similar. HC extracts also have an inhibitory effect against the survival of AGS cells. Treatment with HC extracts induced a marked sub-G1 DNA peak and reduced the expression of the anti-apoptotic genes BIRC5 and KPNA2. However, hallmarks of classical apoptosis such as DNA fragmentation and apoptotic body formation were not observed, indicating atypical apoptosis. Furthermore, it was revealed that HC extracts interrupted cell cycle progression in AGS cells through altered expression of six cell cycle-associated genes: CDC20, KPNA2, BIRC5, ANAPC2, CDKN1A and RB1. The present findings suggest that HC may contribute to a novel future anticancer agent.
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