Neferine induces apoptosis by modulating the ROS‑mediated JNK pathway in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Oncol Rep. 2020 Sep ;44(3):1116-1126. Epub 2020 Jul 7. PMID: 32705225
Current treatments for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) have limited efficacy. Therefore, the development of novel therapeutic targets to effectively manage the disease and boost survival rates is imperative Neferine, a natural product extracted from Nelumbo nucifera (lotus) leaves, has been revealed to inhibit the growth of hepatocarcinoma, breast cancer and lung cancer cells. However, its effect on ESCC is unknown. In the present study, it was revealed that neferine exerted anti‑proliferative effects in ESCC. It was also revealed that it triggeredarrest of the G2/M phase and enhanced apoptosis of ESCC cell lines. Moreover, its ability to trigger accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activate the c‑Jun N‑terminal kinase (JNK) pathway was demonstrated. Further study revealed how N‑acetyl cysteine (NAC), a ROS inhibitor, attenuated these effects, demonstrating that ROS and JNK inhibitors mediated a marked reversal of neferine‑triggered cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in ESCC cells. Finally, it was revealed that neferine was involved in the inhibition of Nrf2, an antioxidant factor. Collectively, these findings demonstrated the antitumor effect of neferine in ESCC, through the ROS‑mediated JNK pathway and inhibition of Nrf2, indicating its potential as a target for development of novel and effective therapeutic agents against ESCC.