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Article

Piperlongumine, a Potent Anticancer Phytotherapeutic, Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis In Vitro and In Vivo through the ROS/Akt Pathway in Human Thyroid Cancer Cells

1
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chia-Yi Christian Hospital, Chiayi 60002, Taiwan
2
Department of Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, China Medical University, Taichung 406040, Taiwan
3
Department of Internal Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung 404332, Taiwan
4
Department of Medical Research, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung 404332, Taiwan
5
Department of Nursing, Min-Hwei College of Health Care Management, Tainan 73658, Taiwan
6
Department of Medical Research, Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chia-Yi Christian Hospital, Chiayi 60002, Taiwan
7
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 80708, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editors: David Wong, Felisbina Queiroga and Bruno Cogliati
Cancers 2021, 13(17), 4266; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174266
Received: 15 July 2021 / Revised: 13 August 2021 / Accepted: 20 August 2021 / Published: 24 August 2021
There is no effective treatment currently available for patients with anaplastic, recurrent papillary, or follicular thyroid cancers. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are believed to hold promise as a new therapeutic strategy for multiple human cancers. However, studies on ROS inducers for human thyroid cancer treatment are scarce. This study assesses the anticancer activity and the detailed downstream mechanisms of piperlongumine, a ROS inducer, in human thyroid cancer cells. We demonstrate that piperlongumine inhibits cell proliferation, regulates the cell cycle, and induces cellular apoptosis in various types of human thyroid cancer cells. The antihuman thyroid cancer activity of piperlongumine was through ROS induction, and it further suppressed the downstream Akt signaling pathway to elevate mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. A mouse xenograft study demonstrated that piperlongumine was safe and could inhibit tumorigenesis in vivo. The present study provides strong evidence that piperlongumine can be used as a therapeutic candidate for human thyroid cancers.
Thyroid cancer (TC) is the most common endocrine malignancy, and its global incidence has steadily increased over the past 15 years. TC is broadly divided into well-differentiated, poorly differentiated, and undifferentiated types, depending on the histological and clinical parameters. Thus far, there are no effective treatments for undifferentiated thyroid cancers or advanced and recurrent cancer. Therefore, the development of an effective therapeutic is urgently needed for such patients. Piperlongumine (PL) is a naturally occurring small molecule derived from long pepper; it is selectively toxic to cancer cells by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this study, we demonstrate the potential anticancer activity of PL in four TC cell lines. For this purpose, we cultured TC cell lines and analyzed the following parameters: Cell viability, colony formation, cell cycle, apoptosis, and cellular ROS induction. PL modulated the cell cycle, induced apoptosis, and suppressed tumorigenesis in TC cell lines in a dose- and time-dependent manner through ROS induction. Meanwhile, an intrinsic caspase-dependent apoptosis pathway was observed in the TC cells under PL treatment. The activation of Erk and the suppression of the Akt/mTOR pathways through ROS induction were seen in cells treated with PL. PL-mediated apoptosis in TC cells was through the ROS-Akt pathway. Finally, the anticancer effect and safety of PL were also demonstrated in vivo. Our findings indicate that PL exhibits antitumor activity and has the potential for use as a chemotherapeutic agent against TC. This is the first study to show the sensitivity of TC cell lines to PL. View Full-Text
Keywords: novel therapeutic strategy; safe anticancer treatment; anaplastic thyroid cancer; recurrent thyroid cancer; effective treatment novel therapeutic strategy; safe anticancer treatment; anaplastic thyroid cancer; recurrent thyroid cancer; effective treatment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kung, F.-P.; Lim, Y.-P.; Chao, W.-Y.; Zhang, Y.-S.; Yu, H.-I.; Tai, T.-S.; Lu, C.-H.; Chen, S.-H.; Li, Y.-Z.; Zhao, P.-W.; Yen, Y.-P.; Lee, Y.-R. Piperlongumine, a Potent Anticancer Phytotherapeutic, Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis In Vitro and In Vivo through the ROS/Akt Pathway in Human Thyroid Cancer Cells. Cancers 2021, 13, 4266. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174266

AMA Style

Kung F-P, Lim Y-P, Chao W-Y, Zhang Y-S, Yu H-I, Tai T-S, Lu C-H, Chen S-H, Li Y-Z, Zhao P-W, Yen Y-P, Lee Y-R. Piperlongumine, a Potent Anticancer Phytotherapeutic, Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis In Vitro and In Vivo through the ROS/Akt Pathway in Human Thyroid Cancer Cells. Cancers. 2021; 13(17):4266. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174266

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kung, Fang-Ping, Yun-Ping Lim, Wen-Ying Chao, Yi-Sheng Zhang, Hui-I Yu, Tsai-Sung Tai, Chieh-Hsiang Lu, Shu-Hsin Chen, Yi-Zhen Li, Pei-Wen Zhao, Yu-Pei Yen, and Ying-Ray Lee. 2021. "Piperlongumine, a Potent Anticancer Phytotherapeutic, Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis In Vitro and In Vivo through the ROS/Akt Pathway in Human Thyroid Cancer Cells" Cancers 13, no. 17: 4266. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174266

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