Millepachine, a novel chalcone, induces G2/M arrest by inhibiting CDK1 activity and causing apoptosis via ROS-mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in human hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo

Wenshuang Wu, Haoyu Ye, Li Wan, Xiaolei Han, Guangcheng Wang, Jia Hu, Minhai Tang, Xingmei Duan, Yi Fan, Shichao He, Li Huang, Heying Pei, Xuewei Wang, Xiuxia Li, Caifeng Xie, Ronghong Zhang, Zhu Yuan, Yongqiu Mao, Yuquan Wei, Lijuan Chen
Carcinogenesis 2013, 34 (7): 1636-43
In this study, we reported millepachine (MIL), a novel chalcone compound for the first time isolated from Millettia pachycarpa Benth (Leguminosae), induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo. In in vitro screening experiments, MIL showed strong antiproliferation activity in several human cancer cell lines, especially in HepG2 cells with an IC50 of 1.51 µM. Therefore, we chose HepG2 and SK-HEP-1 cells to study MIL's antitumor mechanism. Flow cytometry showed that MIL induced a G2/M arrest and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Western blot demonstrated that MIL-induced G2/M arrest was correlated with the inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 activity, including a remarkable decrease in cell division cycle (cdc) 2 synthesis, the accumulation of phosphorylated-Thr14 and decrease of phosphorylation at Thr161 of cdc2. This effect was associated with the downregulation of cdc25C and upmodulation of checkpoint kinase 2 in response to DNA damage. MIL also activated caspase 9 and caspase 3, and significantly increased the ratio of Bax/Bcl-2 and stimulated the release of cytochrome c into cytosol, suggesting MIL induced apoptosis via mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Associated with those effects, MIL also induced the generation of reactive oxygen species. In HepG2 tumor-bearing mice models, MIL remarkably and dose dependently inhibited tumor growth. Treatment of mice with MIL (20mg/kg intravenous [i.v.]) caused more than 65% tumor inhibition without cardiac damage compared with 47.57% tumor reduction by 5mg/kg i.v. doxorubicin with significant cardiac damage. These effects suggested that MIL and its easily modified structural derivative might be a potential lead compound for antitumor drug.

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