Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 793–802 | Cite as

Pro-apoptotic and cytostatic activity of naturally occurring cardenolides

  • Elena Bloise
  • Alessandra Braca
  • Nunziatina De Tommasi
  • Maria Antonietta Belisario
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Keywords

Cardenolides PC3 U937 Apoptosis Cell cycle TRAIL 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Bloise
    • 1
  • Alessandra Braca
    • 2
  • Nunziatina De Tommasi
    • 1
  • Maria Antonietta Belisario
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze FarmaceuticheUniversità di SalernoFiscianoItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Chimica Bioorganica e BiofarmaciaUniversità di PisaPisaItaly

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