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Arsenic sulfide, the main component of realgar, a traditional Chinese medicine, induces apoptosis of gastric cancer cells in vitro and in vivo

Authors Zhang L, Tian W, Kim S, Ding W, Tong Y, Chen S

Received 16 September 2014

Accepted for publication 11 October 2014

Published 16 December 2014 Volume 2015:9 Pages 79—92


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Shu-Feng Zhou

Lian Zhang,1,* Wei Tian,1,2,* Sungkyoung Kim,1 Wenping Ding,1 Yingying Tong,1 Siyu Chen1

1Department of Oncology, Xin Hua Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Oncology, Central Hospital of Zibo, Shandong, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Arsenic sulfide (As4S4), the main component of realgar, a traditional Chinese medicine, has shown antitumor efficacy in several tumor types, especially for acute promyelocytic leukemia. In this study, we aimed to explore the efficacy and mechanism of As4S4 in gastric cancer.
Methods: The effect of As4S4 on cell proliferation and apoptosis of gastric cancer cells was investigated by MTT assay, 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining, and annexin V–fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide staining using gastric cancer cell lines AGS (harboring wild-type p53) and MGC803 (harboring mutant p53) in vitro. The expression of apoptosis-related proteins was measured by Western blotting, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemistry analysis. Mouse xenograft models were established by inoculation with MGC803 cells, and the morphology and the proportion of apoptotic cells in tumor tissues were detected by hematoxylin and eosin staining and TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay, respectively.
Results: As4S4 inhibited the proliferation and induced apoptosis of AGS and MGC803 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. As4S4 upregulated the expression of Bax and MDM2 while downregulated the expression of Bcl-2. The expression of p53 increased significantly in the AGS cells but did not readily increase in the MGC803 cells, which harbored mutant p53. Pifithrin-α, a p53 inhibitor, blocked the modulation of As4S4 on AGS cells, but not on MGC803 cells. Using xenograft as a model, we showed that As4S4 suppressed tumor growth and induced apoptosis in vivo and that the expression of p53 increased accordingly.
Conclusion: As4S4 is a potent cytotoxic agent for gastric cancer cells, as it induced apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo through a p53-dependent pathway. Our data indicate that As4S4 may have therapeutic potential in gastric cancer.

Keywords: As4S4, p53, realgar, antitumor, xenograft

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