Ursolic Acid Induces Apoptosis in Colorectal Cancer Cells Partially via Upregulation of MicroRNA-4500 and Inhibition of JAK2/STAT3 Phosphorylation.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Dec 29 ;20(1). Epub 2018 Dec 29. PMID: 30597956
Though ursolic acid (UA) isolated fromwas known to exhibit anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-obesity effects, the underlying antitumor mechanism of ursolic acid was not fully understood to date. Thus, in the present study, the apoptotic mechanism of ursolic acid was elucidated in HCT116 and HT29 colorectal cancer cells in association with STAT3 and microRNA-4500 (miR-4500) by MTT assay, Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-dT-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) assay, cell cycle analysis, immunofluorescence, and Western blotting. Ursolic acid significantly exerted cytotoxicity, increased TUNEL positive cells and sub-G1 apoptotic portion, induced cleavage of poly (adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and caspase 3 in HCT116 and HT29 cells. Of note, ursolic acid attenuated the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins such as Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and also blocked nuclear translocation of STAT3 in colorectal cancer cells. Notably, ursolic acid increased the expression level of miR-4500 in HCT116 cells by qRT-PCR analysis and conversely miR-4500 inhibitor reversed cytotoxic, anti-proliferative, and apoptotic effects by increasing TUNEL positive cells, PARP cleavage and inhibiting p-STAT3 in ursolic acid treated colorectal cancer cells. Overall, our findings provide evidence that usolic acid induces apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells partially via upregulation of miR-4500 and inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation as a potent anti-cancer agent for colorectal cancer therapy.