Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Noscapine induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in human colon cancer cells in vivo and in vitro.

PMID 22546556


Noscapine, a phthalide isoquinoline alkaloid derived from opium, has been widely used as a cough suppressant for decades. Noscapine has recently been shown to potentiate the anti-cancer effects of several therapies by inducing apoptosis in various malignant cells without any detectable toxicity in cells or tissues. However, the mechanism by which noscapine induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells remains unclear. The signaling pathways by which noscapine induces apoptosis were investigated in colon cancer cell lines treated with various noscapine concentrations for 72 h, and a dose-dependent inhibition of cell viability was observed. Noscapine effectively inhibited the proliferation of LoVo cells in vitro (IC(50)=75 μM). This cytotoxicity was reflected by cell cycle arrest at G(2)/M and subsequent apoptosis, as indicated by increased chromatin condensation and fragmentation, the upregulation of Bax and cytochrome c (Cyt-c), the downregulation of survivin and Bcl-2, and the activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9. Moreover, in a xenograft tumor model in mice, noscapine injection clearly inhibited tumor growth via the induction of apoptosis, which was demonstrated using a TUNEL assay. These results suggest that noscapine induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells via mitochondrial pathways. Noscapine may be a safe and effective chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of human colon cancer.

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(S,R)-Noscapine, 97%