Therapeutic effects of dihydroartemisinin and transferrin against glioblastoma

  • Kim, Suk Hee (Department of Food and Nutrition, Hyejeon College) ;
  • Kang, Seong Hee (Department of Radiological Science, College of Medical Science, Konyang University) ;
  • Kang, Bo Sun (Department of Radiological Science, College of Medical Science, Konyang University)
  • Received : 2015.09.16
  • Accepted : 2016.03.29
  • Published : 2016.08.01


BACKGROUND/OBJECFTIVES: Artemisinin, a natural product isolated from Gaeddongssuk (artemisia annua L.) and its main active derivative, dihydroartemisinin (DHA), have long been used as antimalarial drugs. Recent studies reported that artemisinin is efficacious for curing diseases, including cancers, and for improving the immune system. Many researchers have shown the therapeutic effects of artemisinin on tumors such as breast cancer, liver cancer and kidney cancer, but there is still insufficient data regarding glioblastoma (GBM). Glioblastoma accounts for 12-15% of brain cancer, and the median survival is less than a year, despite medical treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In this study, we investigated the anti-cancer effects of DHA and transferrin against glioblastoma (glioblastoma multiforme, GBM). MATERIALS/METHODS: This study was performed through in vitro experiments using C6 cells. The toxicity dependence of DHA and transferrin (TF) on time and concentration was analyzed by MTT assay and cell cycle assay. Observations of cellular morphology were recorded with an optical microscope and color digital camera. The anti-cancer mechanism of DHA and TF against GBM were studied by flow cytometry with Annexin V and caspase 3/7. RESULTS: MTT assay revealed that TF enhanced the cytotoxicity of DHA against C6 cells. An Annexin V immune-precipitation assay showed that the percentages of apoptosis of cells treated with TF, DHA alone, DHA in combination with TF, and the control group were $7.15{\pm}4.15%$, $34.3{\pm}5.15%$, $66.42{\pm}5.98%$, and $1.2{\pm}0.15%$, respectively. The results of the Annexin V assay were consistent with those of the MTT assay. DHA induced apoptosis in C6 cells through DNA damage, and TF enhanced the effects of DHA. CONCLUSION: The results of this study demonstrated that DHA, the derivative of the active ingredient in Gaeddongssuk, is effective against GBM, apparently via inhibition of cancer cell proliferation by a pharmacological effect. The role of transferrin as an allosteric activator in the GBM therapeutic efficacy of DHA was also confirmed.


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