Cucurbitacin E (CuE, α-elaterin), a tetracyclic triterpenes compound from folk traditional Chinese medicine plants, has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, inflammatory response and bilirubin-albumin binding. However, the effects of CuE on tumor angiogenesis and its potential molecular mechanism are still unknown. Here, we demonstrated that CuE significantly inhibited human umbilical vascular endothelial cell (HUVEC) proliferation, migration and tubulogenesis in vitro and blocked angiogenesis in chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane assay and mouse corneal angiogenesis model in vivo. Furthermore, we found that CuE remarkably induced HUVEC apoptosis, inhibited tumor angiogenesis and suppressed human prostate tumor growth in xenograft tumor model. Finally, we showed that CuE blocked vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 2-mediated Janus kinase (Jak) 2-signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 signaling pathway in endothelial cells and suppressed the downstream protein kinases, such as extracellular signal-regulated kinase and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases. Therefore, our studies provided the first evidence that CuE inhibited tumor angiogenesis by inhibiting VEGFR2-mediated Jak-STAT3 and mitogen-activated protein kinases signaling pathways and CuE is a potential candidate in angiogenesis-related disease therapy.
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