Carnosic acid, a rosemary phenolic compound, induces apoptosis through reactive oxygen species-mediated p38 activation in human neuroblastoma IMR-32 cells

Chia-Wen Tsai, Chia-Yuan Lin, Hui-Hsuan Lin, Jing-Hsien Chen
Neurochemical Research 2011, 36 (12): 2442-51
Carnosic acid (CA), a rosemary phenolic compound, has been shown to display anti-cancer activity. We examined the apoptotic effect of CA in human neuroblastoma IMR-32 cells and elucidated the role of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) associated with carcinogenesis. The result indicated that CA decreased the cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. Further investigation in IMR-32 cells revealed that cell apoptosis following CA treatment is the mechanism as confirmed by flow cytometry, hoechst 33258, and caspase-3/-9 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activation. Immunoblotting suggested a down-regulation of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein in the CA-treated cells. In flow cytometric analysis, CA caused the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); however, pretreatment with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) attenuated the CA-induced generation of ROS and apoptosis. This effect was accompanied by increased activation of p38 and by decreased activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) as well as activation of c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK). Moreover, NAC attenuated the CA-induced phosphorylation of p38. Silencing of p38 by siRNA gene knockdown reduced the CA-induced activation of caspase-3. In conclusion, ROS-mediated p38 MAPK activation plays a critical role in CA-induced apoptosis in IMR-32 cells.

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