, Volume 23, Issue 3–4, pp 210–225 | Cite as

Licarin A induces cell death by activation of autophagy and apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer cells

  • Uma Maheswari
  • Krishna Ghosh
  • Sudha Rani SadrasEmail author


Lung cancer has a relatively poor prognosis with a low survival rate and drugs that target other cell death mechanism like autophagy may help improving current therapeutic strategy. This study investigated the anti-proliferative effect of Licarin A (LCA) from Myristica fragrans in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines—A549, NCI-H23, NCI-H520 and NCI-H460. LCA inhibited proliferation of all the four cell lines in a dose and time dependent manner with minimum IC50 of 20.03 ± 3.12, 22.19 ± 1.37 µM in NCI-H23 and A549 cells respectively. Hence NCI-H23 and A549 cells were used to assess the ability LCA to induce autophagy and apoptosis. LCA treatment caused G1 arrest, increase in Beclin 1, LC3II levels and degradation of p62 indicating activation of autophagy in both NCI-H23 and A549 cells. In addition, LCA mediated apoptotic cell death was confirmed by MMP loss, increased ROS, cleaved PARP and decreased pro-caspase3. To understand the role of LCA induced autophagy and its association with apoptosis, cells were analysed following treatment with a late autophagy inhibitor-chloroquine and also after Beclin 1 siRNA transfection. Data indicated that inhibition of autophagy resulted in reduced anti-proliferative as well as pro-apoptotic ability of LCA. These findings confirmed that LCA brought about autophagy dependent apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer cells and hence it may serve as a potential drug candidate for non-small cell lung cancer therapy.


Licarin A Autophagy Apoptosis Chloroquine Reactive oxygen species 



Licarin A




Microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain


Epidermal growth factor receptor


Sequestosome-1/ubiquitin-binding protein


Tumor suppressor protein


Reactive oxygen species




Propidium iodide


Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase


Nuclear magnetic resonance


Fourier transform infrared


High performance liquid chromatography



The research work was funded by Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, and DBT-IPLS program (BT/PR14554/INF/22/125/2010). We thank Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for fluorescence microscope facility and Central Instrumentation Facility (CIF), Pondicherry University. We also thank Translational Research Platform for veterinary Biologicals-TANUVAS, Chennai for confocal microscopy facility. 

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1209 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DBT-IPLS Programme, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyPondicherry UniversityPondicherryIndia
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyCentral University of KeralaKasaragodIndia
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Life SciencesPondicherry UniversityPondicherryIndia

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