Involvement of the mitochondrial pathway in bruceine D-induced apoptosis in Capan-2 human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells

School of Chinese Medicine, Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China.
International Journal of Molecular Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.09). 04/2012; 30(1):93-9. DOI: 10.3892/ijmm.2012.980
Source: PubMed


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.

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