Enterocarpam-III Induces Human Liver and Breast Cancer Cell Apoptosis via Mitochondrial and Caspase-9 Activation

  • Banjerdpongchai, Ratana (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University) ;
  • Wudtiwai, Benjawan (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University) ;
  • Pompimon, Wilart (Laboratory of Natural Products, Center for Innovation in Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Lampang Rajabhat University)
  • Published : 2015.03.18


An aristolactam-type alkaloid, isolated from Orophea enterocarpa, is enterocarpam-III (10-amino-2,3,4,6-tetramethoxyphenanthrene-1-carboxylic acid lactam). It is cytotoxic to various human and murine cancer cell lines; however, the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. The aims of this study were to investigate cytotoxic effects on and mechanism (s) of human cancer cell death in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 and human invasive breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells compared to normal murine fibroblast NIH3T3 cells. Cell viability was determined by MTT assay to determine $IC_{10}$, $IC_{20}$ and $IC_{50}$ levels, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production with 2',7'-dichlorohydrofluorescein diacetate and the caspase-3, -8 and -9 activities using specific chromogenic (p-nitroaniline) tetrapeptide substrates, viz., DEVD-NA, IETD-NA and LEHD-NA and employing a microplate reader. Mitochondrial transmembrane potential (MTP) was measured by staining with 3, 3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide ($DiOC_6$) and using flow cytometry. The compound was cytotoxic to HepG2 and MDA-MB-231 cells with the $IC_{50}$ levels of $26.0{\pm}4.45$ and $51.3{\pm}2.05{\mu}M$, respectively. For murine normal fibroblast NIH3T3 cells, the $IC_{50}$ concentration was $81.3{\pm}10.1{\mu}M$. ROS production was reduced in a dose-response manner in HepG2 cells. The caspase-9 and -3 activities increased in a concentration-dependent manner, whereas caspase-8 activity did not alter, indicating the intrinsic pathway activation. Enterocarpam-III decreased the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (MTP) dose-dependently in HepG2 cells, suggesting that the compound induced HepG2 cell apoptosis via the mitochondrial pathway. In conclusion, enterocarpam-III inhibited HepG2 and MDA-MB-231 cell proliferation and induced human HepG2 cells to undergo apoptosis via the intrinsic (mitochondrial) pathway and induction of caspase-9 activity.


Enterocarpam-III;Orophea enterocarpa;apoptosis;HepG2 cells;MDA-MB-231 cells;mitochondria


Supported by : Chiang Mai University


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