Chemico-biological interactions

Artesunate induces apoptosis through caspase-dependent and -independent mitochondrial pathways in human myelodysplastic syndrome SKM-1 cells.

PMID 24704559


Artesunate (ART) is a semi-synthetic derivative of artemisinin extracted from Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood) that is conventionally used in anti-malarial drugs and more recently in medications that induce tumor cell apoptosis. Here, we investigated the effects and mechanistic pathways of ART in human myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a condition that commonly progresses to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Human MDS SKM-1 cells, primary bone marrow (PBM) mononuclear cells from patients with refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB) or MDS-AML (MDS cell group), and PBM stromal cells from three patients without hematological diseases (non-MDS cell group) were cultured for 24, 48, or 72 h with or without various ART concentrations. CCK-8, western blot, JC-1 fluorescence, and Annexin-V/Propidium iodide (PI) labeling were used to assess cell proliferation, protein levels, mitochondrial membrane potentials (MMPs) and apoptosis, respectively. ART administration dose- and time-dependently inhibited SKM-1 proliferation. At 24, 48, and 72 h, ART IC₅₀ values were 89.92, 4.24, and 1.28 μmol/L, respectively. ART only significantly inhibited proliferation in the MDS cell group, but it has little impact on proliferation of non-MDS cells. ART decreased MMPs, and dose-dependently induced SKM-1 cell apoptosis, peaking at 82.9% when treated with 200 μmol/L ART for 24h. Caspase-3 and -9 activation, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, decreased Bcl-2/Bax ratio and apoptosis inducing factor nuclear localization were implicated in apoptosis. Our results indicate that ART effectively induces apoptosis in SKM-1 cells through both caspase-dependent and -independent mitochondrial pathways.

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