, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 674–686 | Cite as

Necrostatin-1 reverts shikonin-induced necroptosis to apoptosis

  • Weidong Han
  • Jiansheng Xie
  • Ling Li
  • Zhen Liu
  • Xun HuEmail author
Original Paper


Degterev et al. previously demonstrated that death receptor mediated apoptosis could be diverted to necroptosis when apoptosis signaling was blocked, suggesting that necroptosis may function as a backup mechanism to insure the elimination of damaged cells under certain conditions when apoptosis was inhibited. Here, we show that shikonin-induced necroptosis can be reverted to apoptosis in the presence of necrostatin-1 (Nec-1), a specific necroptosis inhibitor and that the death mode switch is at least partially due to the conversion from mitochondrial inner membrane permeability to mitochondrial outer membrane permeability, which is associated with Bax translocation. The data combined with the previous reports support a notion that apoptosis and necroptosis may function as reciprocal backup mechanisms of cellular demise. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to document a conversion from necroptosis to apoptosis.


Necroptosis Necrostatin-1 Apoptosis Shikonin 



Death receptor






Mitochondrial inner membrane permeability


Mitochondrial outer membrane permeability


Reactive oxygen species


Receptor-interacting protein 1




Multidrug-resistance associated protein 1

PT pore

Permeability transition pore


Mitochondrial trans-inner-membrane potential


Mitochondrial membrane potential






Cyclosporin A


Bongkrekic acid


4,4′-Diisothiocyanatostilbene-2,2′-disulfonic acid disodium salt hydrate


Mitotracker red


5,5′,6,6′-Tetrachloro-1,1′,3,3′-tetraethyl-benzimidazo-lylcarbocyanine iodide

Ro 5-4864




This work was supported in part by Cheung Kong Scholars Programme (National Ministry of Education, China, and Li Ka Shing Foundation, Hong Kong), China National 863 project (2007AA02Z143), China National Ministry of Health Grant (WKJ2006-2-11), the Bureau for Traditional Chinese Medicine Grant 2006Z013A, Zhejiang Province, China (all to XH).

Supplementary material

10495_2009_334_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.7 mb)
Supplementary Fig. 1 Death mode induced by shikonin is dose-dependent HL60 cells were treated with shikonin at various concentrations for 12 h, nuclear morphology was detected by Hoechst 33342 staining.
10495_2009_334_MOESM2_ESM.tif (524 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 2 Necrostatin-1 converts shikonin-induced necroptosis to apoptosis in K562 or K562/Adr A, Cells were treated with shikonin at 10 μM in the presence or absence of Nec-1 for 12 h, and apoptotic or necrotic death rates was counted by Vital dye exclusion assay and Hoechst-staining. B & C, Activation of caspases 3, 8 and 9 in K562 and K562/Adr cells treated with shikonin for 6 h in absence or presence of Nec-1. Data are mean ±SD or representative of at least 3 independent experiments.
10495_2009_334_MOESM3_ESM.tif (5.7 mb)
Supplementary Fig. 3 Plasma membrane of apoptotic cells is not necessarily permeable to trypan blue HL60 Cells were treated with 2.5 μM shikonin for 12 h. Apoptotic or necrotic death rates was counted by vital dye exclusion assay and Hoechst-staining. Data are mean ± SD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weidong Han
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiansheng Xie
    • 1
  • Ling Li
    • 1
  • Zhen Liu
    • 1
  • Xun Hu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Cancer Institute (Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention & Intervention, National Ministry of Education, Provincial Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Medical Sciences)The Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Medical Oncology, Sir Run Run Shaw HospitalZhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina

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