Ursolic acid from Trailliaedoxa gracilis induces apoptosis in medullary thyroid carcinoma cells.
Mol Med Rep. 2015 Jul 7. Epub 2015 Jul 7. PMID: 26151624
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) originates from the C‑cells of the thyroid and is not sensitive to radiation or chemotherapy. Therefore, surgical removal of the tumor tissue in its entirety is the only curative treatment for MTC. The present study aimed to examine the potential mechanisms of action of extracts of Trailliaedoxa gracilis (TG; WW Smith&Forrest), a plant from the province of Sichuan, China, and of ursolic acid (UA), a pentacyclic triterpen present in TG, on the MTC‑SK MTC cell line. A total of 13 TG fractions and UA were examined in vitro for their effects on cell morphology, cell number, proliferation and rates of apoptosis. Reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction of nuclear factor‑κB essential modifier (NEMO) was performed to delineate the role of the apoptotic pathway following treatment with UA. TG and UA were examined in vivo in xenotransplanted MTC‑bearing severe combined immunodeficient mice. The TG fractions exhibited antiproliferative effects, with inhibition of mitochondrial activity in the tumor cells at concentrations, which caused no impairment of the normal control cells. The apoptotic rates of the MTC‑SK cells treated with the TG fractions and UA were determined, in which no marked tumor inhibition was observed in the treated MTC‑mice, and no change in the expression of NEMO was detected in the treated MTC‑SK cells. The observation of early‑onset activation of caspase 8 suggested that the responsible factor was linked to NEMO, an anti‑apoptotic protein. However, no differences in the mRNA transcription levels of NEMO were detected in MTC‑SK cells treated with UA, suggesting that this protein was not associated with the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 pathway.