Icaritin causes sustained ERK1/2 activation and induces apoptosis in human endometrial cancer cells

Jing-Shan Tong, Qinghua Zhang, Xin Huang, Xue-Qi Fu, Shu-Tao Qi, Yapeng Wang, Yi Hou, Jun Sheng, Qing-Yuan Sun

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Icaritin, a compound from Epimedium Genus, has selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulating activities, and posses anti-tumor activity. Here, we examined icaritin effect on cell growth of human endometrial cancer Hec1A cells and found that icaritin potently inhibited proliferation of Hec1A cells. Icaritin-inhibited cell growth was associated with increased levels of p21 and p27 expression and reduced cyclinD1 and cdk 4 expression. Icaritin also induced cell apoptosis accompanied by activation of caspases as evidenced by the cleavage of endogenous substrate Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and cytochrome c release, which was abrogated by pretreatment with the pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk. Icaritin treatment also induced expression of pro-apoptotic protein Bax with a concomitant decrease of Bcl-2 expression. Furthermore, icaritin induced sustained phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (the MAPK/ ERK1/2) in Hec1A cells and U0126, a specific MAP kinase kinase (MEK1/2) inhibitor, blocked the ERK1/2 activation by icaritin and abolished the icaritin-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis. Our results demonstrated that icaritin induced sustained ERK 1/2 activation and inhibited growth of endometrial cancer Hec1A cells, and provided a rational for preclinical and clinical evaluation of icaritin for endometrial cancer therapy
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16781
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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