Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 8721–8729 | Cite as

Neferine induces autophagy of human ovarian cancer cells via p38 MAPK/ JNK activation

  • Limei Xu
  • Xiyu Zhang
  • Yinuo Li
  • Shuhua Lu
  • Shan Lu
  • Jieyin Li
  • Yuqiong Wang
  • Xiaoxue Tian
  • Jian-jun Wei
  • Changshun Shao
  • Zhaojian LiuEmail author
Original Article


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. Patients usually have poor prognosis because of late diagnosis, relapse, and chemoresistance. It is pressing to seek novel agent for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Neferine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the embryos of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). In this study, we investigated the antitumor effect of neferine on ovarian cancer cells. We found that neferine exhibited growth-inhibitory effect on human ovarian cancer cells, whereas showing less cytotoxic to non-malignant fallopian tube epithelial cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that neferine induced autophagy and inactivated the mTOR pathway. Finally, we found that both p38 MAPK and JNK signaling pathways were activated by neferine treatment and contributed to the induction of autophagy in ovarian cancer cells. In conclusion, our findings showed that neferine induced autophagy of human ovarian cancer cells via p38 MAPK/JNK activation. Neferine may be explored as a promising antitumoral agent in ovarian cancer.


Neferine Autophagy p38 MAPK JNK Ovarian cancer 



This study was supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China (81472432, 81171897, 81401145).

Compliance with ethical standard

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Limei Xu
    • 1
  • Xiyu Zhang
    • 2
  • Yinuo Li
    • 1
  • Shuhua Lu
    • 3
  • Shan Lu
    • 1
  • Jieyin Li
    • 1
  • Yuqiong Wang
    • 1
  • Xiaoxue Tian
    • 1
  • Jian-jun Wei
    • 4
  • Changshun Shao
    • 2
  • Zhaojian Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Cell BiologyShandong University School of MedicineJinanChina
  2. 2.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Experimental Teratology and Department of Molecular Medicine and GeneticsShandong UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.Hospital Information Center, People’s Hospital of RizhaoRizhaoChina
  4. 4.Department of PathologyNorthwestern University School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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