International journal of molecular medicine

Butein sensitizes HeLa cells to cisplatin through the AKT and ERK/p38 MAPK pathways by targeting FoxO3a.

PMID 26310353


Drug resistance remains a major challenge in cancer therapy. Butein, a polyphenolic compound, has been shown to exhibit anticancer activity through the inhibition of the activation of the protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, which are two pathways known to be involved in resistance to cisplatin. Hence, we hypotheiszed that butein may be a chemosensitizer to cisplatin. In the present study, we demonstrated that butein synergistically enhanced the growth inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing effects of cisplatin on HeLa cells. Moreover, the combination of butein and cisplatin led to G1 phase arrest. We then aimed to explore the underlying mechanisms. We found that butein inhibited the activation of AKT, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERKs) and p38 kinases in the presence of cisplatin. The use of the AKT inhibitor, LY294002, in combination with cisplatin, induced an increase in apoptosis compared to treatment with cisplatin alone, although this effect was not as prominent as that exerted by butein in combination with cisplatin. Of note, the inhibition of ERK or p38 MAPK by U0126 or SB203580, respectively, decreased the apoptosis induced by cisplatin; however, enhanced apoptotic effects were observed with the use of ERK/p38 MAPK inhibitor in combination with butein. These data suggest that the AKT and ERK/p38 MAPK pathways are involved in the synergistic effects of butein and cisplatin. Furthermore, co-treatment with butein and cisplatin promoted the nuclear translocation and expression of forkhead box O3a (FoxO3 or FoxO3a). FoxO3a may be the key molecule on which these pathways converge and is thus implicated in the synergistic effects of butein and cisplatin. This was further confirmed by the RNAi-mediated suppression of FoxO3a. FoxO3a target genes involved in cell cycle progression and apoptosis were also investigated, and combined treatment with butein and cisplatin resulted in the downregulation of cyclin D1 and Bcl-2 and the upregulation of p27 and Bax. In addition, the combination of both agents markedly inhibited tumor growth and increased the expression of FoxO3a in mouse tumor xenograft models of cervical cancer. Taken together, to the best of our knowledge, our results reveal for the first time that butein sensitizes cervical cancer cells to cisplatin in vitro and in vivo, and these effects of butien may be related to the inhibition of the activation of the AKT and ERK/p38 MAPK pathways by targeting FoxO3a.

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Butein, solid