Suppression of EGFR/STAT3 activity by lupeol contributes to the induction of the apoptosis of human non‑small cell lung cancer cells.
Int J Oncol. 2019 Jul ;55(1):320-330. Epub 2019 May 7. PMID: 31115519
The aim of this study was to investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible for the anticancer effects of lupeol on human non‑small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). MTT assay and Trypan blue exclusion assay were used to evaluate the cell viability. DAPI staining and flow cytometric analysis were used to detect apoptosis. Molecular docking and western blot analysis were performed to determine the target of lupeol. We found that lupeol suppressed the proliferation and colony formation of NSCLC cells in a dose‑dependent manner. In addition, lupeol increased chromatin condensation, poly(ADP‑ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, sub‑G1 cell populations, and the proportion of Annexin V‑positive cells, indicating that lupeol triggered the apoptosis of NSCLC cells. Notably, lupeol inhibited the phosphorylation of epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR). A docking experiment revealed that lupeol directly bound to the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR. We observed that the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), a downstream molecule of EGFR, was also dephosphorylated by lupeol. Lupeol suppressed the nuclear translocation and transcriptional activity of STAT3 and downregulated the expression of STAT3 target genes. The constitutive activation of STAT3 by STAT3 Y705D overexpression suppressedlupeol‑induced apoptosis, demonstrating that the inhibition of STAT3 activity contributed to the induction of apoptosis. The anticancer effects of lupeol were consistently observed in EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)‑resistant H1975 cells (EGFR L858R/T790M). Taken together, the findings of this study suggest that lupeol may be used, not only for EGFR TKI‑naïve NSCLC, but also for advanced NSCLC with acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs.