• Open Access

Hydroxychavicol, a Piper betle leaf component, induces apoptosis of CML cells through mitochondrial reactive oxygen species-dependent JNK and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activation and overrides imatinib resistance


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: santu2@iicb.res.in


Alcoholic extract of Piperbetle (Piper betle L.) leaves was recently found to induce apoptosis of CML cells expressing wild type and mutated Bcr-Abl with imatinib resistance phenotype. Hydroxychavicol (HCH), a constituent of the alcoholic extract of Piper betle leaves, was evaluated for anti-CML activity. Here, we report that HCH and its analogues induce killing of primary cells in CML patients and leukemic cell lines expressing wild type and mutated Bcr-Abl, including the T315I mutation, with minimal toxicity to normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. HCH causes early but transient increase of mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species-dependent persistent activation of JNK leads to an increase in endothelial nitric oxide synthase-mediated nitric oxide generation. This causes loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, cleavage of caspase 9, 3 and poly-adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase leading to apoptosis. One HCH analogue was also effective in vivo in SCID mice against grafts expressing the T315I mutation, although to a lesser extent than grafts expressing wild type Bcr-Abl, without showing significant bodyweight loss. Our data describe the role of JNK-dependent endothelial nitric oxide synthase-mediated nitric oxide for anti-CML activity of HCH and this molecule merits further testing in pre-clinical and clinical settings. (Cancer Sci 2012; 103: 88–99)