Journal of cellular biochemistry

Wogonin induces cross-regulation between autophagy and apoptosis via a variety of Akt pathway in human nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells.

PMID 22689083


Autophagy as well as apoptosis is an emerging target for cancer therapy. Wogonin, a flavonoid compound derived from the traditional Chinese medicine of Huang-Qin, has anticancer activity in many cancer cells including human nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). However, the involvement of autophagy in the wogonin-induced apoptosis of NPC cells was still uninvestigated. In this study, we found wogonin-induced autophagy had interference on the process of apoptosis. Wogonin-induced autophagy formation evidenced by LC3 I/II cleavage, acridine orange (AO)-stained vacuoles and the autophagosome/autolysosome images of TEM analysis. Activation of autophagy with rapamycin resulted in increased wogonin-mediated autophagy via inhibition of mTOR/P70S6K pathway. The functional relevance of autophagy in the antitumor activity was investigated by annexin V-positive stained cells and PARP cleavage. Induction of autophagy by rapamycin ameliorated the wogonin-mediated apoptosis, whereas inhibition of autophagy by 3-methyladenine (3-MA) or bafilomycin A1 increased the apoptotic effect. Interestingly, this study also found, in addition the mTOR/P70S6K pathway, wogonin also inhibited Raf/ERK pathway, a variety of Akt pathways. Inactivation of PI(3) K/Akt by their inhibitors significantly induced apoptosis and markedly sensitized the NPC cells to wogonin-induced apoptosis. This anticancer effect of Akt was further confirmed by SH6, a specific inhibitor of Akt. Importantly, inactivation of its downstream molecule ERK by PD98059, a MEK inhibitor, also induced apoptosis. This study indicated wogonin-induced both autophagy and apoptosis through a variety of Akt pathways and suggested modulation of autophagy might provide profoundly the potential therapeutic effect.

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Wogonin hydrate, ≥98% (HPLC), solid
C16H12O5 · xH2O