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Abstract Title:

2-Ethoxystypandrone, a novel small-molecule STAT3 signaling inhibitor from Polygonum cuspidatum, inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis of HCC cells and HCC Cancer stem cells.

Abstract Source:

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Feb 1 ;19(1):38. Epub 2019 Feb 1. PMID: 30709346

Abstract Author(s):

Wuguo Li, Qing Zhang, Kaotan Chen, Zhenhua Sima, Jingli Liu, Qiang Yu, Jiawei Liu

Article Affiliation:

Wuguo Li


BACKGROUND: Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is an oncogene constitutively activated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and HCC cancer stem cells (CSCs). Constitutively activated STAT3 plays a pivotal role in holding cancer stemness of HCC CSCs, which are essential for hepatoma initiation, relapse, metastasis and drug resistance. Therefore, STAT3 has been validated as a novel anti-cancer drug target and the strategies targeting HCC CSCs may bring new hopes to HCC therapy. This study aimed to isolate and identify small-molecule STAT3 signaling inhibitors targeting CSCs from the ethyl acetate (EtOAc) extract of the roots of Polygonum cuspidatum and to evaluate their in vitro anti-cancer activities.

METHODS: The chemical components of the EtOAc extract and the subfractions of P. cuspidatum were isolated by using various column chromatographies on silical gel, Sephadex LH-20, and preparative HPLC. Their chemical structures were then determined on the basis of spectroscopic data including NMR, MS and IR analysis and their physicochemical properties. The inhibitory effects of the isolated compounds against STAT3 signaling were screened by a STAT3-dependent luciferase reporter gene assay. The tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3 was examined by Western Blot analysis. In vitro anti-cancer effects of the STAT3 pathway inhibitor were further evaluated on cell growth of human HCC cells by a MTT assay, on self-renewal capacity of HCC CSCs by the tumorsphere formation assay, and on cell cycle and apoptosis by flow cytometry analysis, respectively.

RESULTS: The EtOAc extract of the roots of P. cuspidatum was investigated and a novel juglone analogue 2-ethoxystypandrone (1) along with seven known compounds (2-8) was isolated. Among the eight isolated compounds 1-8, 2-ethoxystypandrone was a novel and potent STAT3 signaling inhibitor (IC = 7.75 ± 0.18 μM), and inhibited the IL-6-induced and constitutive activation of phosphorylation of STAT3 in HCC cells. Moreover, 2-ethoxystypandrone inhibited cell survival of HCC cells (IC = 3.69 ± 0.51 μM ~ 20.36 ± 2.90 μM), blocked the tumorspheres formation (IC = 2.70 ± 0.28 μM), and induced apoptosis of HCC CSCs in a dose-dependent manner.

CONCLUSION: A novel juglone analogue 2-ethoxystypandrone was identified from the EtOAc extract of the roots of P. cuspidatum and was demonstrated to be a potent small-molecule STAT3 signaling inhibitor, which strongly blocked STAT3 activation, inhibited proliferation, and induced cell apoptosis of HCC cells and HCC CSCs. 2-Ethoxystypandrone as a STAT3 signaling inhibitor might be a promising lead compound for further development into an anti-CSCs drug.

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