Betulinic acid decreases expression of bcl-2 and cyclin D1, inhibits proliferation, migration and induces apoptosis in cancer cells

Abstract

Betulinic acid (BA) is a pentacyclic triterpene found in many plant species, among others in the bark of white birch Betula alba. BA was reported to display a wide range of biological effects, including antiviral, antiparasitic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities, and in particular to inhibit growth of cancer cells. The aim of the study was further in vitro characterization of BA anticancer activity. In this study, we demonstrated a remarkable antiproliferative effect of BA in all tested tumor cell cultures including neuroblastoma, rabdomyosarcoma-medulloblastoma, glioma, thyroid, breast, lung and colon carcinoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma, as well as in primary cultures isolated from ovarian carcinoma, cervical carcinoma and glioblastoma multiforme. Furthermore, we have shown that BA decreased cancer cell motility and induced apoptotic cell death. We also observed decrease of bcl2 and cyclin D1 genes expression, and increase of bax gene expression after betulinic acid treatment. These findings demonstrate the anticancer potential of betulinic acid and suggest that it may be taken into account as a supportive agent in the treatment of cancers with different tissue origin.

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Correspondence to Wojciech Rzeski.

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Rzeski, W., Stepulak, A., Szymański, M. et al. Betulinic acid decreases expression of bcl-2 and cyclin D1, inhibits proliferation, migration and induces apoptosis in cancer cells. Naunyn-Schmied Arch Pharmacol 374, 11–20 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00210-006-0090-1

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Keywords

  • Betulinic acid
  • Proliferation
  • Migration
  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl-2
  • Cyclin D1