Cucurbitacin C (CuC), a biochemical compound found in plants belonging to the pumpkin and gourd family, is able to suppress cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), according to a new study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.

CuC exerts these effects by modulating the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway, the study showed. 

“Altogether, our study demonstrated that CuC holds promise as a prospective therapeutic agent for treating CCA,” the authors of the study wrote. 

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They assessed the effect of CuC on CCA cell lines using different assays as well as in vivo using a tumor xenograft mouse model.

The results showed that CuC suppressed the progression of CCA cells. Moreover, it effectively suppressed the viability and proliferation of these cells. Finally, CuC effectively inhibited the migration and invasion ability of CCA cells. 

Read more about the treatment of CCA

The team of researchers from China led by Jianfeng Yang showed that CuC exerted its antiproliferative role in CCA cells by arresting the cell cycle and by increasing programmed cell death. They demonstrated, through bioinformatics and network pharmacology analysis, that CuC inhibits CCA cell progression by modulating the JAK2/STAT3 pathway, a common signaling pathway that transduces signals from the extracellular environment to the nucleus upon the binding of cytokines and growth factors to specific receptors found on the cell surface. 

The CCA xenograft tumor model showed that CuC treatment inhibited CCA progression also in vivo.

CuC is a distinct type of cucurbitacin that has shown anticancer effects in various types of cancer. 

CCA is a rare type of cancer originating from the cells of the biliary tree. The prognosis is poor and treatment options are limited with most cases being refractory to available treatments. Therefore it is of great importance to identify new therapeutic approaches for the disease.


Chen W, Liu Q, Huang Z, Le C, Wang Y, Yang J. Cucurbitacin C as an effective anti-cancer agent: unveiling its potential role against cholangiocarcinoma and mechanistic insights. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. Published online July 20, 2023. doi:10.1007/s00432-023-05188-x