DOI: 10.3390/biomedicines11092442 ISSN:

Piperlongumine Induces Apoptosis and Cytoprotective Autophagy via the MAPK Signaling Pathway in Human Oral Cancer Cells

Eun-Young Choi, Eun-Ji Han, Su-Ji Jeon, Sang-Woo Lee, Jun-Mo Moon, Soo-Hyun Jung, Ji-Youn Jung
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Oral cancer is a malignant tumor that primarily affects areas such as the lips, tongue, buccal mucosa, salivary gland, and gingiva and has a very high malignancy. Piperlongumine (PL), isolated from long pepper (Piper longum L.), is a natural alkaloid with pharmacological effects, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic effects. The effect and mechanism of PL in oral cancer cell lines has not been explored. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the mechanism of anticancer effects of PL in the human oral cancer cell lines MC-3 and HSC-4 in vitro. This study demonstrated that PL inhibits cell proliferation by inducing apoptosis and autophagy in human oral cancer cell lines, which was confirmed by the levels of apoptosis- and autophagy-related proteins through Western blotting. Moreover, the pharmacological blockade of autophagy activation by hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an autophagy inhibitor, significantly improved PL-induced apoptosis in MC-3 cells, suggesting a cytoprotective effect. In addition, activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway contributed to PL-induced apoptosis. Collectively, the study suggested that combining an autophagy inhibitor with PL treatment can exert effective anticancer properties in oral cancer cells by inducing apoptosis and cytoprotective autophagy via the JNK-mediated MAPK pathway.

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