DOI: 10.1177/03946320231219348 ISSN: 0394-6320

Erastin induces ferroptosis in cervical cancer cells via Nrf2/HO-1 signaling pathway

Xiaoning Wei, Qiaoqiao Huang, Jinbing Huang, Li Yu, Junying Chen
  • Pharmacology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • General Medicine


Our research aims to assess the influence of erastin, a ferroptosis-inducing agent, on cervical cancer cells.


Cervical cancer is a prevalent malignancy in females. Dysregulation of ferroptosis, a form of cell demise reliant on iron, is implicated in several cancers.


The effect of erastin on HeLa and SiHa was detected by transwell assay, scratch test, and colony formation assay, while cell apoptosis was detected using flow cytometry. Cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation was detected using the dichloro-dihydro-fluorescein diacetate assay. Sequencing analysis identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs), and Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) Enrichment analyses were employed to identify the target gene. Subsequently, the utilization of small interfering RNA (siRNA) was employed to suppress the targeted gene expression in HeLa cells, thereby effectively mitigating the impact of erastin on various cellular processes including invasion, colony formation, migration, and ROS generation.


The findings indicate that erastin attenuates the viability of both HeLa cells (IC50 = 30.88 µM) and SiHa cells (IC50 = 29.40 µM). Treatment with erastin at 10 µM inhibits the invasion, colony formation, and migration of both HeLa and SiHa cells within 24 h. Ferrostatin-1 (1 µM) notably alleviates the inhibitory effects of erastin of HeLa and SiHa cells. Upregulation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and its downstream target, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), was found in erastin-treated cells compared to the control group. When knocked down HO-1 in HeLa cells, effectively counteracting the effects of erastin on the invasion, colony formation, migration, and ROS production in HeLa cells.


Our research demonstrates that erastin induces ferroptosis and the accumulation of ROS in cervical cancer cells by activating the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway, significantly reducing cell proliferation and motility. These findings propose a potential molecular mechanism of erastin-mediated cervical cancer development.

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