The induction of autophagy against mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in lung cancer cells by a ruthenium (II) imidazole complex.

PMID 27811372


In the present study, it was found that the ruthenium (II) imidazole complex [Ru(Im)4(dppz)]2+ (Ru1) could induce significant growth inhibition and apoptosis in A549 and NCI-H460 cells. Apart from the induction of apoptosis, it was reported for the first time that Ru1 induced an autophagic response in A549 and NCI-H460 cells as evidenced by the formation of autophagosomes, acidic vesicular organelles (AVOs), and the up-regulation of LC3-II. Furthermore, scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by antioxidant NAC or Tiron inhibited the release of cytochrome c, caspase-3 activity, and eventually rescued cancer cells from Ru1-mediated apoptosis, suggesting that Ru1 inducing apoptosis was partially caspase 3-dependent by triggering ROS-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction in A549 and NCI-H460 cells. Further study indicated that the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway was involved in Ru1-induced autophagy in A549 and NCI-H460 cells. Moreover, blocking autophagy using pharmacological inhibitors 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and chloroquine (CQ) enhanced Ru1-induced apoptosis, indicating the cytoprotective role of autophagy in Ru1-treated A549 and NCI-H460 cells. Finally, the in vivo mice bearing A549 xenografts, Ru1 dosed at 10 or 20 mg/kg significantly inhibited tumor growth.