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Keywords:

  • triterpene glycoside;
  • apoptosis;
  • G0/G1;
  • mitochondrial pathway;
  • NF-κB

Abstract

BACKGROUND:Echinoside A (EA) and ds-echinoside A (DSEA) are triterpene glycosides isolated from the sea cucumber Pearsonothuria graeffei. DSEA, the desulfurisation product of EA, has the following structure: β-D-xylopyranosyl-holost-8(9),11(12)-diene-3β,17α-diol. In the present study, we examined the anti-tumour activities—in particular, the structure-activity relationships—of EA and DSEA in vitro and in vivo.

RESULTS: Both EA and DSEA exhibited an inhibitory effect on cell proliferation, along with apoptosis-inducing activity, in HepG2 cells. Moreover, they significantly arrested the cell cycle in the G0/G1 phase. A reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay revealed that EA and DSEA significantly increased the expression of the cell-cycle-related genes, namely, p16, p21 and c-myc, and decreased that of cyclin D1. Western blotting analysis demonstrated that they down-regulated the expression of Bcl-2, and enhanced mitochondrial cytochrome c release, caspase-3 activation, and poly(adenosine diphosphate ribose) polymerase, cleavage. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) expression was significantly decreased by DSEA, but was unaffected by EA. EA and DSEA (2.5 mg kg−1) treatment of mice bearing H22 hepatocarcinoma tumours reduced the tumour weight by 49.8% and 55.0%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: EA and DSEA exhibit marked anti-cancer activity in HepG2 cells, by blocking cell-cycle progression and inducing apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway. DSEA-induced apoptosis was more potent than EA-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, the two triterpene glycosides derived from P. graeffei may induce apoptosis of HepG2 cells in an NF-κB-dependent or NF-κB-independent manner, depending on their structure. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry