Arctigenin Promotes Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells via the iNOS/NO/STAT3/Survivin Signalling

Arctigenin is a biologically active lignan extracted from the seeds of Arctium lappa and shows anticancer activity against a variety of human cancers. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of arctigenin on ovarian cancer cell proliferation and survival and associated molecular mechanisms. Human ovarian cancer OVCAR3 and SKOV3 cells were treated with arctigenin, and cell proliferation and apoptosis were assessed. Western blot analysis was used to examine signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) phosphorylation and survivin and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. The involvement of STAT3/survivin/iNOS/NO signalling in arctigenin action was checked. Arctigenin treatment resulted in a significant and dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. Arctigenin-treated cells showed a 4–6 times increase in the percentage of apoptosis, compared with control cells. Pre-treatment with Ac-DEVD-CHO, a specific inhibitor of caspase-3, counteracted the induction of apoptosis by arctigenin. Arctigenin treatment significantly inhibited STAT3 phosphorylation and survivin and iNOS expression. Arctigenin-induced apoptosis was impaired by pre-transfection with survivin-expressing plasmid or addition of chemical nitric oxide (NO) donors. Additionally, exogenous NO prevented the suppression of STAT3 phosphorylation and survivin expression by arctigenin. Arctigenin treatment inhibits the proliferation and induces caspase-3-dependent apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells. Suppression of iNOS/NO/STAT3/survivin signalling is causally linked to the anticancer activity of arctigenin. Therefore, arctigenin may be applicable to anticancer therapy for ovarian cancer.

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