Betulinic acid exhibits anti-cancer properties in U937 leukemia cells - GreenMedInfo Summary
The anti-cancer effect of betulinic acid in u937 human leukemia cells is mediated through ROS-dependent cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.
Anim Cells Syst (Seoul). 2021 ;25(2):119-127. Epub 2021 Apr 23. PMID: 34234893
Although previous studies have shown anti-cancer activity of betulinic acid (BA), a pentacyclic triterpenoid, against various cancer lines, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well elucidated. In this study, we evaluated the mechanisms involved in the anti-cancer efficacy of BA in U937 human myeloid leukemia cells. BA exerted a significant cytotoxic effect on U937 cells through blocking cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase and inducing apoptosis, and that the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels increased after treatment with BA. The down-regulation of cyclin A and cyclin B1, and up-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21WAF1/CIP1 revealed the G2/M phase arrest mechanism of BA. In addition, BA induced the cytosolic release of cytochromeby reducing the mitochondrial membrane potential with an increasing Bax/Bcl-2 expression ratio. BA also increased the activity of caspase-9 and -3, and subsequent degradation of the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. However, quenching of ROS by-acetyl-cysteine, an ROS scavenger, markedly abolished BA-induced G2/M arrest and apoptosis, indicating that the generation of ROS plays a key role in inhibiting the proliferation of U937 cells by BA treatment. Taken together, our results provide a mechanistic rationale that BA exhibits anti-cancer properties in U937 leukemia cells through ROS-dependent induction of cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase and apoptosis.