Oridonin induces apoptosis in SW1990 pancreatic cancer cells via p53- and caspase-dependent induction of p38 MAPK

He-Qi Bu, Dian-Lei Liu, Wei-Tian Wei, Liang Chen, Hai Huang, Ye Li, Jun-Hui Cui
Oncology Reports 2014, 31 (2): 975-82
Oridonin, an active component isolated from Rabdosia rubescens, has been reported to exhibit antitumor effects. In the present study, we evaluated the antitumor activity and the mechanisms of action of oridonin in pancreatic cancer. Oridonin treatment significantly induced apoptotic cell death in SW1990 pancreatic cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, cell apoptosis was markedly inhibited by PFT α (pifithrin α), a p53-specific inhibitor, which was applied to evaluate the function of p53, showing that p53 was responsible for the cytotoxity of oridonin. Moreover, oridonin increased the expression of p-p53 with a concomitant increase in p21 in the SW1990 cells. Following treatment with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors, PD98059 (ERK inhibitor), SP600125 (JNK inhibitor) and SB203580 (p38 inhibitor), the cytotoxity of oridonin was not influenced by JNK (SP600125) and ERK (PD98059), but these effects were opposite to the cytotoxity of oridonin observed with SP203580 treatment. These findings confirmed that orodonin-induced apoptosis was p38-dependent, but JNK- and ERK-independent. Furthermore, the activation of the p38 kinase promoted the activation of p53 and its downstream target p21, and further caused caspase-9 and -3 activation, as demonstrated by evidence showing that the p38 inhibitor SB203580 not only blocked the phosphorylation of p38 but also reduced the activation of p53, p21 and caspase-9 and -3. Collectively, these results suggest that p53-dependent and caspase-dependent induction of p38 MAPK directly participates in apoptosis induced by oridonin.

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