Inhibition of the PI3K-Akt/PKB survival pathway enhanced an ethanol extract of Rhus verniciflua Stokes-induced apoptosis via a mitochondrial pathway in AGS gastric cancer cell lines.
Cancer Lett. 2008 Jul 8;265(2):197-205. Epub 2008 Apr 18. PMID: 18378393
Rhus verniciflua Stokes (RVS) has been used in traditional Eastern Asia medicine for the treatment of gastritis and stomach cancer, although the mechanism for its biological activity remains to be elucidated. We previously established that an ethanol extract of RVS-induced G(1)-cell cycle arrest via accumulation of p27(Kip1) controlled by Skp2 reduction and apoptosis in AGS human gastric cancer cells. Here, we showed that an ethanol extract of RVS-induced apoptosis via caspase-9 activation (mitochondrial death pathway) is mediated by the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP, Deltapsi(m)) and the release of cytochrome C from the mitochondrial intermembrane space. In addition, an ethanol extract of RVS inactivated PI3K-Akt/PKB kinase in a time-dependent manner. Moreover, combined treatment of an ethanol extract of RVS and LY294002 (a PI3K inhibitor) markedly increased apoptosis compared to treatment with an ethanol extract of RVS alone. The role of PI3K-Akt/PKB in this process was confirmed by constitutive expression of inactive mutants of this kinase in AGS cells. Finally, siRNA-mediated knockdown of Akt/PKB expression resulted in a significant reduction in AGS cell proliferation. Taken together, these results suggest that an ethanol extract of RVS induces apoptosis via a mitochondrial death pathway in human gastric cancer cells, but not in normal cells, and inhibition of the PI3K-Akt/PKB pathway enhanced the mitochondrial death pathway.