A novel herbal medicine, KIOM-C, induces autophagic and apoptotic cell death mediated by activation of JNK and reactive oxygen species in HT1080 human fibrosarcoma cells.
KIOM-C was recently demonstrated to have anti-metastatic activity in highly malignant cancer cells via suppression of NF-?B-mediated MMP-9 activity. In addition, it was reported to be effective for clearance of the influenza virus by increasing production of anti-viral cytokines, such as TNF-? and IFN-?, and efficacious in the treatment of pigs suffering from porcine circovirus-associated disease (PCVAD). In this study, we investigated whether KIOM-C induces cancer cell death and elucidated the underlying anti-cancer mechanisms. In addition, we examined whether KIOM-C oral administration suppresses in vivo tumor growth of HT1080 cells in athymic nude mice. We initially found that KIOM-C at concentrations of 500 and 1000 µg/ml caused dose- and time-dependent cell death in cancer cells, but not normal hepatocytes, to approximately 50% of control levels. At the early stage of KIOM-C treatment (12 h), cells were arrested in G1 phase, which was accompanied by up-regulation of p21 and p27, down-regulation of cyclin D1, and subsequent increases in apoptotic and autophagic cells. Following KIOM-C treatment, the extent of caspase-3 activation, PARP cleavage, Beclin-1 expression, and LC3-II conversion was remarkably up-regulated, but p62 expression was down-regulated. Phosphorylation of AMPK, ULK, JNK, c-jun, and p53 was increased significantly in response to KIOM-C treatment. The levels of intracellular ROS and CHOP expression were also increased. In particular, the JNK-specific inhibitor SP600125 blocked KIOM-C-induced ROS generation and CHOP expression almost completely, which consequently almost completely rescued cell death, indicating that JNK activation plays a critical role in KIOM-C-induced cell death. Furthermore, daily oral administration of 85 and 170 mg/kg KIOM-C efficiently suppressed the tumorigenic growth of HT1080 cells, without systemic toxicity. These results collectively suggest that KIOM-C efficiently induces cancer cell death by both autophagy and apoptosis via activation of JNK signaling pathways, and KIOM-C represents a safe and potent herbal therapy for treating malignancies.