Involvement of the mitochondrial pathway in bruceine D-induced apoptosis in Capan-2 human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells.
ABSTRACT The fruit of Brucea javanica L. is a common herb used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of a variety of cancers. Our research group has previously identified bruceine D (BD), a quassinoid found abundantly in B. javanica, to have potent cytotoxic effect on a number of pancreatic cancer cell lines, including Panc-1, SW1990 and Capan-1 cells. In the present study, we showed that BD was also able to inhibit the growth of the Capan-2 human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line, but it exerted only modest cytotoxicity on the WRL68 human hepatocyte cell line and a human pancreatic progenitor cell line. The antiproliferative effects of BD were comparable to those exhibited by camptothecin and gemcitabine in our culture system. We found a dose-dependent decrease of the mitochondrial membrane potential in BD-treated Capan-2 cells as measured by the JC-1 assay. BD exposure was able to attenuate the expression of Bcl-2 protein in Capan-2 cells as detected by western blot analysis. In addition, the expression of both caspase 9 and caspase 3 in BD-treated Capan-2 cells was significantly accentuated. Moreover, BD was capable of inducing the fragmentation of genomic DNA in Capan-2 cells as evidenced by Hoechst staining. Cell cycle analysis demonstrated that BD could increase the percentage of Capan-2 cells in the subG1 phase in a dose-related manner. An increase in the apoptosis of Capan-2 cells was also observed by Annexin V and PI staining. These results unequivocally indicate that BD induces cytotoxicity in Capan-2 cells via the induction of cellular apoptosis involving the mitochondrial pathway.