Betulinic acid promotes TRAIL function on liver cancer progression inhibition through p53/Caspase-3 signaling activation.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Apr ;88:349-358. Epub 2017 Jan 21. PMID: 28119237
Betulinic acid (BA), isolated from the tree bark, is a pentacyclic triterpenoid, showing inhibitory role in cancer cells. However, the effects of BA treatment on liver cancer have little to be known. Thus, the study is conducted to explore the in vitro and in vivo role of BA in liver cancer. And the interactions between BA and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand of APO2, also known as TRAIL, were investigated in liver cancer cells. A synergistic effect of BA and APO2 combination on apoptosis induction in liver cancer cells was observed. The cancer cells were insensitive to APO2 single therapy. However, liver cancer cells receiving BA were sensitive to APO2-triggered apoptotic response by enhancing Caspases cleavage, due to elevation of decoy receptor 1 and 2 (DcR1 and DcR2) dependent on p53. Bcl-2 family members of Bcl-2 and Mcl-1, belonging to anti-apoptosis, were decreased, whereas Bad and Bak, as pro-apoptotic members, were increased for BA and APO2 combined treatment. Additionally, the mouse xenograft model suggested that BA and APO2 in combination markedly inhibited liver cancer growth in comparison to BA or APO2 monotherapy without toxicity. The present study revealed a dramatically therapeutic strategy for promoting APO2-induced anti-cancer effects on liver cancer cells via BA combination.