Pro-apoptotic and cytostatic activity of naturally occurring cardenolides
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Cardenoliddes are steroid glycosides which are known to exert cardiotonic effects by inhibiting the Na+/K+-ATPase. Several of these compounds have been shown also to possess anti-tumor potential. The aim of the present work was the characterization of the tumor cell growth inhibition activity of four cardenolides, isolated from Periploca graeca L., and the mechanisms underlying such an effect.
The pro-apoptotic and cytostatic effect of the compounds was tested in U937 (monocytic leukemia) and PC3 (prostate adenocarcinoma). Characterization of apoptosis and cell cycle impairment was obtained by cytofluorimetry and WB.
Periplocymarin and periplocin were the most active compounds, periplocymarin being more effective than the reference compound ouabain. The reduction of cell number by these two cardenolides was due in PC3 cells mainly to the activation of caspase-dependent apoptotic pathways, while in U937 cells to the induction of cell cycle impairment without extensive cell death. Interestingly, periplocymarin, at cytostatic but non-cytotoxic doses, was shown to sensitize U937 cells to TRAIL.
Taken together, our data outline that cardiac glycosides are promising anticancer drugs and contribute to the identification of new natural cardiac glycosides to obtain chemically modified non-cardioactive/low toxic derivatives with enhanced anticancer potency.
KeywordsCardenolides PC3 U937 Apoptosis Cell cycle TRAIL
The student Paola Torre contributed to some experiments and results will be included in her degree thesis. This work was supported in part by research grant from the University of Salerno.
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