Human neuroblastoma cancer is the most typical extracranial solid tumor. Yet, new remedial treatment therapies are demanded to overcome its sluggish survival rate. Neferine, isolated from the lotus embryos, inhibits the proliferation of various cancer cells. This study aimed to evaluate the anti-cancer activity of neferine in IMR32 human neuroblastoma cells and to expose the concealable molecular mechanisms. IMR32 cells were treated with different concentrations of neferine, followed by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay to assess cell viability. In an effort to determine the molecular mechanisms in neferine-incubated IMR32 cells, cell cycle arrest, cell migration, and focal adhesion kinase (FAK), the 70-kDa ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (S6K1), poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), caspase-3, Beclin-1, and microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3) protein expressions were investigated. Neferine strongly disrupted the neuroblastoma cell growth via induction of G2/M phase arrest. Furthermore, neferine provoked autophagy and apoptosis in IMR32 cells, confirmed by p-FAK, and p-S6K1 reduction, LC3-II accumulation, Beclin-1 overexpression, and cleaved caspase-3/PARP improvement. Finally, neferine markedly retarded cell migration of neuroblastoma cancer cells. As a result, our findings for the first time showed an explicit anti-cancer effect of neferine in IMR32 cells, suggesting that neferine might be a potential candidate against human neuroblastoma cells to improve clinical outcomes with further in vivo investigation.
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