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Bardoxolone methyl induces apoptosis and autophagy and inhibits epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and stemness in esophageal squamous cancer cells

Authors Wang Y, Yang Y, Zhao R, Pan S, Zhe H, He Z, Duan W, Zhang X, Yang T, Qiu J, Zhou S

Received 30 August 2014

Accepted for publication 7 October 2014

Published 17 February 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 993—1026

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S73493

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Min Li


Yan-Yang Wang,1,2 Yin-Xue Yang,3 Ren Zhao,1 Shu-Ting Pan,2,4 Hong Zhe,1 Zhi-Xu He,5 Wei Duan,6 Xueji Zhang,7 Tianxin Yang,8 Jia-Xuan Qiu,4 Shu-Feng Zhou2,5

1Department of Radiation Oncology, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA; 3Department of Colorectal Surgery, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People’s Republic of China; 4Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, 5Guizhou Provincial Key Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Research Center and Sino-US Joint Laboratory for Medical Sciences, Guiyang Medical University, Guiyang, People’s Republic of China; 6School of Medicine, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, VIC, Australia; 7Research Center for Bioengineering and Sensing Technology, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 8Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah and Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Abstract: Natural and synthetic triterpenoids have been shown to kill cancer cells via multiple mechanisms. The therapeutic effect and underlying mechanism of the synthetic triterpenoid bardoxolone methyl (C-28 methyl ester of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolean-1,9-dien-28-oic acid; CDDO-Me) on esophageal cancer are unclear. Herein, we aimed to investigate the anticancer effects and underlying mechanisms of CDDO-Me in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells. Our study showed that CDDO-Me suppressed the proliferation and arrested cells in G2/M phase, and induced apoptosis in human ESCC Ec109 and KYSE70 cells. The G2/M arrest was accompanied with upregulated p21Waf1/Cip1 and p53 expression. CDDO-Me significantly decreased B-cell lymphoma-extra large (Bcl-xl), B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), cleaved caspase-9, and cleaved poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) levels but increased the expression level of Bcl-2-associated X (Bax). Furthermore, CDDO-Me induced autophagy in both Ec109 and KYSE70 cells via suppression of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/Akt/mTOR) signaling pathway. There were interactions between the autophagic and apoptotic pathways in Ec109 and KYSE70 cells subject to CDDO-Me treatment. CDDO-Me also scavenged reactive oxygen species through activation of the nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway in Ec109 and KYSE70 cells. CDDO-Me inhibited cell invasion, epithelial–mesenchymal transition, and stemness in Ec109 and KYSE70 cells. CDDO-Me significantly downregulated E-cadherin but upregulated Snail, Slug, and zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 1 (TCF-8/ZEB1) in Ec109 and KYSE70 cells. CDDO-Me significantly decreased the expression of octamer-4, sex determining region Y-box 2 (Sox-2), Nanog, and B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 homolog (Bmi-1), all markers of cancer cell stemness, in Ec109 and KYSE70 cells. Taken together, these results indicate that CDDO-Me is a promising anticancer agent against ESCC. Further studies are warranted to explore the molecular targets, efficacy and safety of CDDO-Me in the treatment of ESCC.

Keywords: CDDO-Me, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, cell cycle, apoptosis, autophagy, EMT, stemness, Akt, mTOR

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