Silibinin, a natural flavonoid, induces autophagy via ROS-dependent mitochondrial dysfunction and loss of ATP involving BNIP3 in human MCF7 breast cancer cells.
Oncol Rep. 2015 Jun ;33(6):2711-8. Epub 2015 Apr 17. PMID: 25891311
Silibinin, derived from the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum), has anticancer and chemopreventive properties. Silibinin has been reported to inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells. However, the mechanisms by which silibinin exerts an anticancer effect are poorly defined. The present study aimed to investigate whether silibinin-induced cell death might be attributed to autophagy and the underlying mechanisms in human MCF7 breast cancer cells. Our results showed that silibinin-induced cell death was greatly abrogated by two specific autophagy inhibitors, 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and bafilomycin-A1 (Baf-A1). In addition, silibinin triggered the conversion of light chain 3 (LC3)-I to LC3-II, promoted the upregulation of Atg12-Atg5 formation, increased Beclin-1 expression, and decreased the Bcl-2 level. Moreover, we noted elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, concomitant with the dissipation of mitochondrial transmembrane potential (ΔΨm) and a drastic decline in ATP levels following silibinin treatment, which were effectively prevented by the antioxidants, N-acetylcysteine and ascorbic acid. Silibinin stimulated the expression of Bcl-2 adenovirus E1B 19-kDa-interacting protein 3 (BNIP3), a pro-death Bcl-2 family member, and silencing of BNIP3greatly inhibited silibinin-induced cell death, decreased ROS production, and sustained ΔΨm and ATP levels. Taken together, these findings revealed that silibinin induced autophagic cell death through ROS-dependent mitochondrial dysfunction and ATP depletion involving BNIP3 in MCF7 cells.