Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
May 2004; August 2005; November 2006, June 2014

     Angelica includes ~100 north temperate species; 45 in  China (32 endemic), 16 in the Russian Region, 8 in Europe, and 22 in the United States with 4 in the northern region, 8 in the Pacific Northwest,  4 in the Intermountain Region, and 10 in California.  The most commonly investigated species for their alleged medicinal remedies appear to be A. archangelica, A. atropurpurea, and A. sinensis.  Root is usually the plant part of medicinal interest.  Stems and leaves, however, of A. archangelica are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Several species in Japan appear to be of horticultural interest.  The National Cancer Institute (NCI) had screened 73 extracts from various species by 1980 without any record of confirmed antitumor activity; however, an extract of A. hendersonii screened by the University of Arizona had shown preliminary activity, while the USDA record of active species also shows no recollections.  Nevertheless, Spjut in a 1978 USDA memorandum regarded Angelica spp. as high priority for procurement, particularly species in the western United States.  As of 2000, an additional 12 extracts of species have been obtained by the NCI.   Recent investigations have found coumarins (archangelicin, decursin), flavinoids (chalcones), and polysaccharides (uronic acid) in Angelica spp. to exhibit antitumor activity or cytotoxicity, while other compounds in the plant are also tumor promoting.

Angelica arguta
Marble Mts. Wilderness, Deep Lake, CA
July 2005

Angelica hendersonii
Sonoma Co., CA
Spjut 15003, Nov 2002
Historical data

Angelica lucida
Kenai Peninsula, AK
Spjut & Main15469, Jul 2003


Angelica tomentosa
Marble Mts. Wilderness, One Mile Lake, CA
July 2004

Akihisa T., H. Tokuda, M. Ukiya, M. Iizuka, S. Schneider, K. Ogasawara, T. Mukainaka, K. Iwatsuki T. Suzuk and H. Nishino.  2003.  Chalcones, coumarins, and flavanones from the exudate of Angelica keiskei and their chemopreventive effects.  Cancer Lett. 201(2): 133–137.  “From an ethyl acetate-soluble fraction of the exudate obtained from the stems of Angelica keiskei (Umbelliferae), 17 compounds, viz. five chalcones (1-5), seven coumarins (6-12), three flavanones (13-15), one diacetylene (16), and one 5-alkylresorcinol (17), were isolated. These compounds were evaluated with respect to their inhibitory effects on the induction of Epstein-Barr virus early antigen (EBV-EA) by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) in Raji cells, which is known to be a primary screening test for antitumor-promoters. With the exception of three compounds (10, 16, and 17), all other compounds tested showed potent inhibitory effects on EBV-EA induction (92-100% inhibition at 1x10(3)mol ratio/TPA). In addition, upon evaluation of these compounds for the inhibitory effects against activation of (+/-)-(E)-methyl-2-[(E)-hydroxy-imino]-5-nitro-6-methoxy-3-hexemide (NOR 1), a nitric oxide (NO) donor, as a primary screening test for antitumor-initiators, two chalcones (2 and 3) and six coumarins (6-11) exhibited potent inhibitory effects

Awale S., E. M. Nakashima, S. K. Kalauni, Y. Tezuka, Y. Kurashima, J. Lu, H. Esumi and S. Kadota. 2006. Angelmarin, a novel anti-cancer agent able to eliminate the tolerance of cancer cells to nutrient starvation.  Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 16(3): 581–583.  “The CH(2)Cl(2)-soluble extract of Angelica pubescens was found to kill PANC-1 cancer cells preferentially under nutrition starvation at a concentration of 50 microg/ml, with virtually no cytotoxicity under nutrient-rich conditions. Further bioassay-guided fractionation and isolation led to the isolation of a novel compound named angelmarin as the primary compound responsible for the preferential cytotoxicity; the compound exhibited 100% preferential cytotoxicity against PANC-1 cells at a concentration of 0.01 microg/ml.”

Choi S.Y., E. M. Ahn, M. C. Song, D. W. Kim, J. H. Kang, O. S. Kwon, T. C. Kang and N. I.  Baek. 2005. In vitro GABA-transaminase inhibitory compounds from the root of Angelica dahurica.  Phytother. Res.19(10): 839–845.  “The 80% aqueous MeOH extracts from the root of Angelica dahurica, found to inhibit the activities of GABA degradative enzymes GABA transaminase (GABA-T) and succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH), were fractionated using EtOAc, n-BuOH and H2O. Repeated column chromatography for the EtOAc and n-BuOH fractions led to the isolation of two new coumarins, oxypeucedanin hydrate-3''-butyl ether and isopraeroside IV along with six known coumarins, isoimperatorin, imperatorin, phellopterin, oxypeucedanin hydrate, nodakenin and 3'-hydroxymarmesinin, and two polyacetylenes, falcarindiol and octadeca-1,9-dien-4,6-diyn-3,8,18-triol. Of the isolated pure compounds, imperatorin and falcarindiol inactivated the GABA-T activities in both time- and concentration-dependent manners. The kinetic studies showed that imperatorin and falcarindiol reacted with the GABA-T with a second-order rate constant of 2.3 +/- 0.2 mm(-1) min(-1) and 1.5 +/- 0.1 mm(-1) min(-1), respectively. It is postulated that imperatorin and falcarindiol are able to elevate the neurotransmitter GABA levels in the central nervous system by an inhibitory action on the GABA degradative enzyme GABA-T. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.”

Han S. B., C. W. Lee, M. R. Kang, Y. D. Yoon, J. S. Kang, K. H. Lee, W. K. Yoon, K. Lee, S. K. Park  and H. M. Kim. 2006.  Pectic polysaccharide isolated from Angelica gigas Nakai inhibits melanoma cell metastasis and growth by directly preventing cell adhesion and activating host immune functions. Cancer Lett. 243(2): 264–273. “The pectic polysaccharide (angelan) of Angelica gigas Nakai is an immunostimulator that activates the immune functions of B cells and macrophages. Here we investigated the effect of angelan on tumor growth and metastasis. Angelan was found to significantly prolong the survival rate of B16F10-implanted mice and to reduce the frequency of pulmonary metastasis of B16F10 melanoma. Moreover, the combined treatment of angelan and doxorubicin (a cytotoxic anticancer agent) more effectively inhibited tumor growth and metastasis than either compound alone. In the present study, we found that angelan directly inhibited cancer cell adhesion and invasion through the extracellular matrix, in addition to activating the immune functions of B cells and macrophages. These results suggest that angelan can inhibit tumor growth and metastasis by stimulating host immunity and directly inhibiting cancer cell adhesion.”

Kim H. H., S. Sik Bang, J. Seok Choi, H. Han and I. H. Kim. 2005.  Involvement of PKC and ROS in the cytotoxic mechanism of anti-leukemic decursin and its derivatives and their structure-activity relationship in human K562 erythroleukemia and U937 myeloleukemia cells.  Cancer Lett. 223(2): 191–201. “Protein kinase C (PKC) plays an important role in the proliferation and differentiation of various cell types including normal and leukemic hematopoietic cells. Recently, various PKC modulators were used as a chemotherapeutic agent of leukemia. Decursin (1), a pyranocoumarin from Angelica gigas, exhibits the cytotoxic effects on various human cancer cell lines and in vitro PKC activation. For the development of more effective anticancer agents with PKC modulation activity, 11 decursin derivatives 2-12 were chemically synthesized and evaluated for their ability to act as a tumor-suppressing PKC activator and as an antagonist to phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), a tumor-promoting PKC activator. In the presence of phosphatidylserine (PS), all of 12 compounds 1-12 activated PKC (mainly alpha, beta, and gamma isozymes) but only three compounds 1-3 activated PKC even in the absence of PS. Six compounds 1-6 containing the coumarin structure were cytotoxic to human K562 erythroleukemia and U937 myeloleukemia cells. A cytotoxic mechanism of decursin and its derivatives was investigated using TUR cells, a PKC betaII-deficient variant of U937 cells. Among six compounds 1-6 with cytotoxicity to K562 and U937 leukemia cells, only three compounds 1-3 were cytotoxic to TUR cells. Therefore, compounds 1-3 and 4-6 inhibit the proliferation of leukemia cells in a PKC betaII-independent and dependent manner, respectively, indicating that the side chain of compounds determines the dependency of their cytotoxicity on PKC betaII. To further elucidate the cytotoxic mechanism of compounds 1 and 2, levels of PKC isozymes and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were investigated. Compounds 1-2 induced the down-regulation of PKC alpha and betaII in K562 cells and the production of ROS in U937 cells. Thus, PKC and ROS are probably important factors in the cytotoxic mechanism of compounds 1-2. From these results, the structure-activity relationship of decursin and its derivatives is as follows: (i) the coumarin structure is required for anti-leukemic activity and (ii) the side chain is a determinant of PKC activation and the cytotoxic mechanism in leukemia cells.”

Morikawa T, H. Matsuda, N. Nishida, T. Ohgushi and M. Yoshikawa. 2004. Structures of new aromatics glycosides from a Japanese folk medicine, the roots of Angelica furcijuga. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 52(11): 1387–1390. “Three new aromatics glycosides, hyuganosides II, IIIa, and IIIb, were isolated from a Japanese folk medicine, the roots of Angelica furcijuga KITAGAWA. The structures of the new glycosides were determined on the basis of chemical and physicochemical evidence.”

Kimura Y.  2005. New anticancer agents: in vitro and in vivo evaluation of the antitumor and antimetastatic actions of various compounds isolated from medicinal plants. In Vivo 19(1): 37–60. Review.  “In this review, in the search for the development of new anticancer drugs, the effects of compounds isolated from various medicinal plants on tumor growth and metastasis, using mice bearing a highly metastatic drug-resistant mouse tumor, were studied. The antitumor and antimetastatic actions of stilbene derivatives isolated from Polygonum and Cassia species were examined. Among the stilbene derivatives, resveratrol and cassiagrol A (stilbene dimer) displayed antitumor and antimetastatic actions through the inhibition of tumor-induced neovascularization in in vitro and in vivo models. It was found that two chalcone derivatives from Angelica keiskei roots also inhibited tumor growth and metastasis in tumor-bearing mice through the inhibition of tumor-induced neovascularization and/or the inhibition of immune suppression caused by tumors. Recently, basidiomycete fungi have been used for the treatment of cancer. Then, the low molecular weight substances were isolated from Agaricus blazei and Ganoderma lucidum as antitumor and antimetastatic substances. It is suggested that these substances of basidiomycete also inhibited tumor growth and metastasis to the lung through the inhibition of tumor-induced neovascularization and/or the inhibition of immune suppression caused by tumors.”

Kimura Y, M. Taniguchi and K. Baba. 2004. Antitumor and antimetastatic activities of 4-hydroxyderricin isolated from Angelica keiskei roots.  Planta Med. 70(3): 211–219. “The roots of Angelica keiskei Koizumi (Umbelliferae) have traditionally been used as a health food considered to have diuretic, laxative, analeptic and lactagogue effects. Recently, it has been thought that the roots and herbs of A. keiskei have preventive effects against coronary heart disease, hypertension and cancer. It has been reported that chalcone derivatives, such as xanthoangelol and 4-hydroxyderricin, are isolated as main components from this root. Recently, we reported that the 50 % ethanol extract, the ethyl acetate-soluble fraction and the isolated xanthoangelol, inhibited tumor growth and metastasis to the lung in Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC)-bearing mice. In the present study, we examined the effects of 4-hydroxyderricin on tumor growth and metastasis to the lung or liver in subcutaneous or intrasplenic LLC-implanted C57BL/6J female mice. 4-Hydroxyderricin at a dose of 50 mg/kg x 2/day orally inhibited the tumor growth in subcutaneous LLC-implanted mice and inhibited the lung metastasis and prolonged the survival time in mice after the removal of subcutaneous tumors by surgical operation. Doxorubicin (5 mg/kg x 2/week, i. p.) inhibited the tumor growth and metastasis to the lung, but it shortened the survival time and reduced the survival rate compared to those in 4-hydroxyderricin-treated mice. 4-Hydroxyderricin inhibited DNA synthesis in LLC cells at a concentration of 100 microM, but it had no effect on the DNA synthesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) or on the adherence of LLC cells to HUVECs. 4-Hydroxyderricin inhibited Matrigel-induced formation of capillary-like tubes by HUVECs at concentrations of 10 to 100 microM. The weights of the spleen and thymus in mice with subcutaneously implanted LLC were maintained close to those of normal mice by orally administered 4-hydroxyderricin. In addition, 4-hydroxyderricin (50 mg/kg x 2/day) inhibited the reduction of the numbers of lymphocytes, CD4+, CD8+ and natural killer (NK)-T cells in the spleen of tumor-removed mice. Doxorubicin reduced the numbers of lymphocytes, CD4+, CD8+ and NK cells compared to those in LLC-removed mice. These results suggest that the antitumor and antimetastatic activities of 4-hydroxyderricin may be modulated by the immune system and the inhibition of angiogenesis

Lv N., J. H. Koo, H. Y. Yoon, J. Yu, K. A. Kim, I. W. Choi, K. B. Kwon, K. S. Kwon, H. U. Kim, J. W. Park, B. H. Park. 2007. Effect of Angelica gigas extract on melanogenesis in B16 melanoma cells. Int. J. Mol. Med. 20(5): 763–767.  “During the screening of herbs for inhibition of melanogenesis, it was observed that ethanolic extract of Angelicae gigas Radix (AGE) effectively inhibited isobutylmethylxanthine-induced melanogenesis in B16 melanoma cells. The melanin content was significantly decreased by AGE in a dose-dependent manner, and no cytotoxicity was observed at the effective concentrations. Decreased melanin content was accompanied by reduced enzyme activity as well as reduced expression of tyrosinase protein and mRNA. The level of tyrosinase-related protein 1 and 2 mRNAs was also decreased by AGE. Additionally, AGE effectively inhibited alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone- and forskolin-induced melanogenesis, and downregulated the mRNA expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor, a master transcriptional regulator of melanogenic genes. These results suggest that AGE acts as a putative hypopigmenting agent through downregulation of tyrosinase expression induced via a cAMP-dependent pathway.”

Prieto J. M., M. C. Recio, R. M. Giner, S. Manez, E. M. Giner-Larza and J. L. Rios. 2003. Influence of traditional Chinese anti-inflammatory medicinal plants on leukocyte and platelet functions. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 55(9): 1275–1282.  “The enzymes 5-lipoxygenase and elastase are therapeutic targets in dermatological disorders such as psoriasis. Fifteen extracts from traditional Chinese medicinal plants used to treat topical inflammations were screened for their inhibitory effect on lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase and elastase activity in intact leukocytes and platelets. Astragalus membranaceus, Forsythia suspensa and Poria cocos inhibited 5-lipoxygenase, with IC50 values of 141, 80 and 141 microg mL(-1), respectively. The latter two species, along with Angelica dahurica and Angelica pubescens, also inhibited elastase (IC50 values of 80, 123, 68 and 93 microg mL(-1), respectively), while A. pubescens, Atractylodes macrocephala, Lentinus edodes, Rehmannia glutinosa and Paeonia lactiflora selectively inhibited 12-(S)-HHTrE production, a valid marker of cyclooxygenase activity. The inhibition of phospholipase A(2) activity by P. cocos is discussed. Dehydrotumulosic and pachymic acids, which have been isolated from P. cocos, were shown to inhibit leukotriene B(4) release. The results indicate that both P. cocos and F. suspensa are potentially valuable species in the management of skin pathologies involving chronic inflammation

Song G. Y., J. H. Lee, M. Cho,  B. S. Park, D. E. Kim, S. Oh. 2007.  Decursin suppresses human androgen-independent PC3 prostate cancer cell proliferation by promoting the degradation of {beta}-catenin. Mol. Pharmacol. Sep 12. “Alterations in the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway are associated with the development and progression of human prostate cancer. Decursin, a pyranocoumarin isolated from the Korean Angelica gigas root, inhibits the growth of androgen-independent human prostate cancer cells, but little is known about its mechanism of action. Using a cell-based screen, we found that decursin attenuates the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. Decursin antagonized beta-catenin response transcription (CRT), which was induced with Wnt3a-conditioned medium and LiCl, by promoting the degradation of beta-catenin. Furthermore, decursin suppressed the expression of cyclin D1 and c-myc, which are downstream target genes of beta-catenin, and thus inhibited the growth of PC3 prostate cancer cells. In contrast, decursinol, in which the (CH3)2-C=CH-COO-side chain of decursin is replaced with a -OH, had no effect on CRT, the level of intracellular beta-catenin, or PC3 cell proliferation. Our findings suggest that decursin exerts its anticancer activity in prostate cancer cells via inhibition of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway.”

Tsai N. M., Y. L. Chen, C. C. Lee, P.C. Lin, Y. L. Cheng, W. L. Chang, S. Z. Lin and H. J. Harn. 2006.  The natural compound n-butylidenephthalide derived from Angelica sinensis inhibits malignant brain tumor growth in vitro and in vivo.  J. Neurochem. 99(4): 1251–1262.  “The naturally-occurring compound, n-butylidenephthalide (BP), which is isolated from the chloroform extract of Angelica sinensis (AS-C), has been investigated with respect to the treatment of angina. In this study, we have examined the anti-tumor effects of n-butylidenephthalide on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumors both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, GBM cells were treated with BP, and the effects of proliferation, cell cycle and apoptosis were determined. In vivo, DBTRG-05MG, the human GBM tumor, and RG2, the rat GBM tumor, were injected subcutaneously or intracerebrally with BP. The effects on tumor growth were determined by tumor volumes, magnetic resonance imaging and survival rate. Here, we report on the potency of BP in suppressing growth of malignant brain tumor cells without simultaneous fibroblast cytotocixity. BP up-regulated the expression of Cyclin Kinase Inhibitor (CKI), including p21 and p27, to decrease phosphorylation of Rb proteins, and down-regulated the cell-cycle regulators, resulting in cell arrest at the G(0)/G(1) phase for DBTRG-05MG and RG2 cells, respectively. The apoptosis-associated proteins were dramatically increased and activated by BP in DBTRG-05MG cells and RG2 cells, but RG2 cells did not express p53 protein. In vitro results showed that BP triggered both p53-dependent and independent pathways for apoptosis. In vivo, BP not only suppressed growth of subcutaneous rat and human brain tumors but also, reduced the volume of GBM tumors in situ, significantly prolonging survival rate. These in vitro and in vivo anti-cancer effects indicate that BP could serve as a new anti-brain tumor drug.”

USDA ARS Memorandum, 31 Oct 1978, Richard Spjut to Arthur S. Barclay. Selected Medicinal Plants for Field Work, 1978-79. 4 p.  “Angelica spp.” listed among 21 high priority taxa for collection and antitumor screening.

Yim D, R. P. Singh, C. Agarwal, S. Lee, H. Chi and P. Agarwal.  2005. A novel anticancer agent, decursin, induces G1 arrest and apoptosis in human prostate carcinoma cells.  Cancer Res. 65(3): 1035–1044. “We isolated a coumarin compound decursin (C(19)H(20)O(5); molecular weight 328) from Korean angelica (Angelica gigas) root and characterized it by spectroscopy. Here, for the first time, we observed that decursin (25-100 micromol/L) treatment for 24 to 96 hours strongly inhibits growth and induces death in human prostate carcinoma DU145, PC-3, and LNCaP cells. Furthermore, we observed that decursinol [where (CH(3))(2)-C=CH-COO- side chain of decursin is substituted with -OH] has much lower effects compared with decursin, suggesting a possible structure-activity relationship. Decursin-induced growth inhibition was associated with a strong G(1) arrest (P < 0.001) in DU145 and LNCaP cells, and G(1), S as well as G(2)-M arrests depending upon doses and treatment times in PC-3 cells. Comparatively, decursin was nontoxic to human prostate epithelial PWR-1E cells and showed only moderate growth inhibition and G(1) arrest. Consistent with G(1) arrest in DU145 cells, decursin strongly increased protein levels of Cip1/p21 but showed a moderate increase in Kip1/p27 with a decrease in cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK); CDK2, CDK4, CDK6, and cyclin D1, and inhibited CDK2, CDK4, CDK6, cyclin D1, and cyclin E kinase activity, and increased binding of CDK inhibitor (CDKI) with CDK. Decursin-caused cell death was associated with an increase in apoptosis (P < 0.05-0.001) and cleaved caspase-9, caspase-3, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase; however, pretreatment with all-caspases inhibitor (z-VAD-fmk) only partially reversed decursin-induced apoptosis, suggesting the involvement of both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent pathways. These findings suggest the novel anticancer efficacy of decursin mediated via induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis selectively in human prostate carcinoma cells

Yoshikawa M., N. Nishida, K. Ninomiya, T. Ohgushi, M. Kubo, T. Morikawa and H. Matsuda. 2006.  Inhibitory effects of coumarin and acetylene constituents from the roots of Angelica furcijuga on D-galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide-induced liver injury in mice and on nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated mouse peritoneal macrophages. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 14(2): 456–463.  “The methanolic extract (200 mg/kg, p.o. and i.p.), principal coumarin constituents (isoepoxypteryxin, anomalin, and praeroside IV), and a polyacetylene constituent (falcarindiol) (25 mg/kg, i.p.) from the roots of Angelica furcijuga protected the liver injury induced by D-galactosamine (D-GalN)/lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice. In in vitro experiments, coumarin constituents (hyuganins A-D, anomalin, pteryxin, isopteryxin, and suksdorfin) and polyacetylene constituents [(-)-falcarinol and falcarindiol] substantially inhibited LPS-induced NO and/or TNF-alpha production in mouse peritoneal macrophages, and isoepoxypteryxin inhibited D-GalN-induced cytotoxicity in primary cultured rat hepatocytes. Furthermore, hyuganin A, anomalin, and isopteryxin inhibited the decrease in cell viability by TNF-alpha in L929 cells. ”