Betulinic acid induces apoptosis and inhibits metastasis of human renal carcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo.
J Cell Biochem. 2018 11 ;119(10):8611-8622. Epub 2018 Jun 20. PMID: 29923216
Betulinic acid (BA), a natural product with a broad range of biological properties, is a lupane-type pentacyclic triterpene isolated from various plants. Evidence is accumulating that BA is cytotoxic against multiple types of human cancer cells; however, its effects on renal carcinoma cells remain obscure. This study aimed to evaluate the anticancer activity of BA in human renal cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. In the current study, we found that BA inhibited renal cancer cell proliferation in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner in vitro. Moreover, flow cytometry analysis revealed that BA affected the survival of renal cancer cells via the induction of apoptosis. Western blot analysis showed that the occurrence of apoptosis was associated with upregulation of Bcl2-associated X protein and cleaved caspase-3 and downregulation of B-cell lymphoma 2 in renal cancer cells. Additionally, BA treatment augmented the production of reactive oxygen species and induced a significant loss of mitochondrial membrane potential in renal cancer cells, suggesting that BA may trigger apoptosis via the mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway. Furthermore, the migrative and invasive capabilities of renal cancer cells were markedly repressed by BA treatment, which was related to upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)2, MMP9, and vimentin, and downregulation of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 and E-cadherin. Notably, administration of BA retarded tumor growth in 786-O-bearing mice in vivo. Taken together, our results demonstrated the anticancer potential of BA in human renal cancer cells by triggering apoptosis and suppressing migration and invasion.