Reversion of malignant phenotypes of human glioblastoma cells byβ-elemene through β-catenin-mediated regulation of stemness-, differentiation- and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-related molecules.
J Transl Med. 2015 ;13(1):356. Epub 2015 Nov 12. PMID: 26563263
BACKGROUND: Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal type of primary brain tumor.β-Elemene, a natural plant drug extracted from Curcuma wenyujin, has shown strong anti-tumor effects in various tumors with low toxicity. However, the effects of β-elemene on malignant phenotypes of human glioblastoma cells remain to be elucidated. Here we evaluated the effects of β-elemene on cell proliferation, survival, stemness, differentiation and the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro and in vivo, and investigated the mechanisms underlying these effects.
METHODS: Human primary and U87 glioblastoma cells were treated withβ-elemene, cell viability was measured using a cell counting kit-8 assay, and treated cells were evaluated by flow cytometry. Western blot analysis was carried out to determine the expression levels of stemness markers, differentiation-related molecules and EMT-related effectors. Transwell assays were performed to further determine EMT of glioblastoma cells. To evaluate the effect of β-elemene on glioblastoma in vivo, we subcutaneously injected glioblastoma cells into the flank of nude mice and then intraperitoneally injected NaCl or β-elemene. The tumor xenograft volumes were measured every 3 days and the expression of stemness-, differentiation- and EMT-related effectors was determined by Western blot assays in xenografts.
RESULTS: β-Elemene inhibited proliferation, promoted apoptosis, impaired invasiveness in glioblastoma cells and suppressed the growth of animal xenografts. The expression levels of the stemness markers CD133 and ATP-binding cassette subfamily G member 2 as well as the mesenchymal markers N-cadherin and β-catenin were significantly downregulated, whereas the expression levels of the differentiation-related effectors glial fibrillary acidic protein, Notch1, and sonic hedgehog as well as the epithelial marker E-cadherin were upregulated by β-elemene in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, the expression of vimentin was increased by β-elemene in vitro; this result was opposite that for the in vivo procedure. Inhibiting β-catenin enhanced the anti-proliferative, EMT-inhibitory and specific marker expression-regulatory effects of β-elemene.
CONCLUSIONS: β-Elemene reversed malignant phenotypes of human glioblastoma cells through β-catenin-involved regulation of stemness-, differentiation- and EMT-related molecules. β-Elemene represents a potentially valuable agent for glioblastoma therapy.