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Keywords:

  • alantolactone;
  • GSH;
  • ROS;
  • apoptosis;
  • glioblastoma

Abstract

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most malignant and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. Despite concerted efforts to improve current therapies, the prognosis of glioblastoma remains very poor. Alantolactone, a sesquiterpene lactone compound, has been reported to exhibit antifungal, antibacteria, antihelminthic, and anticancer properties. In this study, we found that alantolactone effectively inhibits growth and triggers apoptosis in glioblastoma cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The alantolactone-induced apoptosis was found to be associated with glutathione (GSH) depletion, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, mitochondrial transmembrane potential dissipation, cardiolipin oxidation, upregulation of p53 and Bax, downregulation of Bcl-2, cytochrome c release, activation of caspases (caspase 9 and 3), and cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. This alantolactone-induced apoptosis and GSH depletion were effectively inhibited or abrogated by a thiol antioxidant, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, whereas other antioxidant (polyethylene glycol (PEG)-catalase and PEG-superoxide-dismutase) did not prevent apoptosis and GSH depletion. Alantolactone treatment inhibited the translocation of NF-κB into nucleus; however, NF-κB inhibitor, SN50 failed to potentiate alantolactone-induced apoptosis indicating that alantolactone induces NF-κB-independent apoptosis in glioma cells. These findings suggest that the sensitivity of tumor cells to alantolactone appears to results from GSH depletion and ROS production. Furthermore, our in vivo toxicity study demonstrated that alantolactone did not induce significant hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity in mice. Therefore, alantolactone may become a potential lead compound for future development of antiglioma therapy. © © 2012 IUBMB Life, 64(9): 783–794, 2012