International journal of molecular medicine

The marine-derived fungal metabolite, terrein, inhibits cell proliferation and induces cell cycle arrest in human ovarian cancer cells.

PMID 25318762


The difficulties faced in the effective treatment of ovarian cancer are multifactorial, but are mainly associated with relapse and drug resistance. Cancer stem-like cells have been reported to be an important contributor to these hindering factors. In this study, we aimed to investigate the anticancer activities of a bioactive fungal metabolite, namely terrein, against the human epithelial ovarian cancer cell line, SKOV3, primary human ovarian cancer cells and ovarian cancer stem-like cells. Terrein was separated and purified from the fermentation metabolites of the marine sponge-derived fungus, Aspergillus terreus strain PF26. Its anticancer activities against ovarian cancer cells were investigated by cell proliferation assay, cell migration assay, cell apoptosis and cell cycle assays. The ovarian cancer stem-like cells were enriched and cultured in a serum-free in vitro suspension system. Terrein inhibited the proliferation of the ovarian cancer cells by inducing G2/M phase cell cycle arrest. The underlying mechanisms involved the suppression of the expression of LIN28, an important marker gene of stemness in ovarian cancer stem cells. Of note, our study also demonstrated the ability of terrein to inhibit the proliferation of ovarian cancer stem-like cells, in which the expression of LIN28 was also downregulated. Our findings reveal that terrein (produced by fermention) may prove to be a promising drug candidate for the treatment of ovarian cancer by inhibiting the proliferation of cancer stem-like cells.