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Baicalin Augments Hyperthermia-Induced Apoptosis In U937 Cells And Modulates The MAPK Pathway Via ROS Generation

S. A. Zakki, Zheng-Guo Cui, Lu Sun, Qian-Wen Feng, Meng-ling Li, H. Inadera
Published 2018 · Chemistry, Medicine

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Background/Aims: Hyperthermia is a widely used therapeutic tool for cancer therapy and a well-known inducer of apoptosis. Although the flavonoid compound baicalin (BCN) is a potent anticancer agent for several human carcinomas, it is less potent in the human U937 myelomonocytic leukemia cell line. To explore any enhancing effects of BCN on hyperthermia-induced apoptosis, this study investigated the combined effects and apoptotic mechanisms of hyperthermia and BCN in U937 cells. Methods: U937 cells were heat treated at 44ºC for 12 min with or without pre-treatment with BCN (10-50 µM) and then incubated for 6 h at 37 ºC with 5% CO2 and 95% air. Cell viability was analyzed by Trypan blue exclusion assay. Apoptosis was examined by DNA fragmentation, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Generation of mitochondrial trans-membrane potential (MMP), mitochondrial calcium, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) was also detected by flow cytometry. The expression of proteins related to apoptosis and signaling pathways was determined by western blotting. Results: Hyperthermia alone did not reduce cell viability or induce notable levels of apoptosis, but combined hyperthermia and BCN treatment markedly augmented apoptosis by upregulating proapoptotic proteins and suppressing antiapoptotic proteins, culminating in caspase-3 activation. Mitochondrial transmembrane potential was significantly decreased, and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and suppression of antioxidant enzymes were marked. Furthermore, with the combined treatment, the phosphorylated forms of JNK and p38 showed increased expression, whereas AKT was dephosphorylated. JNK-IN-8 (a JNK inhibitor) and NAC (a ROS scavenger) abrogated the apoptotic effects of the combined treatment, significantly protecting the cells and indicating the involvement of high ROS generation and the MAPK pathway in the underlying molecular mechanism. Conclusion: This study provides compelling evidence that hyperthermia, in combination with BCN, is a promising therapeutic strategy for enhancement of apoptosis and suggest a promising therapeutic approach for cancer.
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