Inactivation of PI3k/Akt signaling pathway and activation of caspase-3 are involved in tanshinone I-induced apoptosis in myeloid leukemia cells in vitro

Jia-Jun Liu, Wen-Da Liu, Hong-Zhi Yang, Yong Zhang, Zhi-Gang Fang, Pei-Qing Liu, Dong-Jun Lin, Ruo-Zhi Xiao, Yuan Hu, Chun-Zhi Wang, Xu-Dong Li, Yi He, Ren-Wei Huang
Annals of Hematology 2010, 89 (11): 1089-97
Tanshinone I (Tan I), a diterpene quinone extracted from herbal medicine Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, has recently been reported to have antitumor effects. As the mechanism of its proapoptotic effects on human myeloid leukemia cells has not been extensively studied, we performed an in-depth evaluation of the effects of Tan I on apoptosis in human K562 and HL-60 cells. The results revealed that Tan I could inhibit the growth of leukemia cells and cause apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Apoptosis was observed clearly by flow cytometry and Hoechst 33258 staining, as well as DNA fragmentation analysis. After treatment by Tan I for 48 h, the percentage of disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) was increased in a dose-dependent manner. Western blotting analysis demonstrated the cleavage of caspase-3 zymogen protein and a dose-dependent cleavage of poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Tan I-induced apoptosis was accompanied by a significant decrease in survivin and an increase in Bax. Moreover, Tan I treatment remarkably downregulated the phosphorylation of both P85/PI3K and Akt in a time-dependent manner, and the PI3K/AKT-specific inhibitor (LY294002) mimicked the apoptosis-inducing effects of Tan I. We therefore conclude that the induction of apoptosis by Tan I in these leukemia cells is mainly related to the disruption of Δψm, the upregulation of Bax expression, and the activation of caspase-3. This process is highly correlated with the inactivation of PI3K/Akt/survivin signaling pathways. The results indicate that Tan I may serve as an effective adjunctive reagent in the treatment of leukemia.

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