Natural products are a precious source of promising leads for the development of novel cancer therapeutics. Recently, triterpenoids in Alismatis rhizoma has been widely demonstrated for their anti-cancer activities in cancer cells. In this study, we examined the inhibitory effects of alisol A in human breast cancer cells. We demonstrated that alisol A exhibited significant anti-proliferative effects in MDA-MB-231 cells and this response was related to autophagy induction. Alisol A-induced autophagy was supported by the triggered autophagosome formation and increased LC3-II levels. Interestingly, autophagy inhibitor 3-MA significantly reversed the cytotoxic effects induced by alisol A. Meanwhile, alisol A-induced autophagy was significantly inhibited by 3-MA in MDA-MB-231 cells. Cell cycle analysis revealed that alisol A arrested the cell cycle at G0/G1 phase. The expression level of cell cycle regulatory proteins cyclin D1 was significantly down regulated. In addition, the suppression of NF-κB and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways in MDA-MB-231 cells was observed. Furthermore, alisol A significantly suppressed the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells by inhibiting the expression levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9. Taken together, our results demonstrated that alisol A could inhibit the proliferation and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 cells. It could be a promising agent for breast cancer therapy.
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