Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a high morbidity and mortality cancer with an obvious racial and geographic bias, particularly endemic to Southeast China. Our previous studies demonstrated that Centipeda minima
extract (CME) exhibited anti-cancer effects in human NPC cell lines. Arnicolide C and arnicolide D are sesquiterpene lactones isolated from Centipeda minima
. In this study, for the first time, we investigated their anti-NPC effects and further explored the related molecular mechanisms. The effects of both arnicolide C and arnicolide D were tested in NPC cells CNE-1, CNE-2, SUNE-1, HONE1, and C666-1. The results showed that the two compounds inhibited NPC cell viability in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. As the inhibitory effect of arnicolide D was the more pronounced of the two, our following studies focused on this compound. Arnicolide D could induce cell cycle arrest at G2
/M, and induce cell apoptosis. The molecular mechanism of cell cycle regulation and apoptosis induction was investigated, and the results showed that arnicolide D could downregulate cyclin D3, cdc2, p-PI3K, p-AKT, p-mTOR, and p-STAT3, and upregulate cleaved PARP, cleaved caspase 9, and Bax. Regulation of cyclin B1, cdk6, and Bcl-2 expression by arnicolide D showed dynamic changes according to dose and time. Taken together, arnicolide D modulated the cell cycle, activated the caspase signaling pathway, and inhibited the PI3K/AKT/mTOR and STAT3 signaling pathways. These findings provide a solid base of evidence for arnicolide D as a lead compound for further development, and act as proof for the viability of drug development from traditional Chinese medicines.
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