A potent apoptosis-inducing activity of a sesquiterpene lactone, arucanolide, in HL60 cells: A crucial role of apoptosis-inducing factor

Yoshihito Nakagawa, Munekazu Iinuma, Nobuyasu Matsuura, Kong Yi, Makoto Naoi, Toshihiro Nakayama, Yoshinori Nozawa, Yukihiro Akao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)


Six main sesquiterpene lactones (germacranolides) from Calea urticifolia were evaluated for in vitro cytotoxicity against human tumor cell lines HL60 and SW480 cells. Among them, arucanolide and parthenolide displayed marked cytotoxicity against both cell lines. Arucanolide exhibited a low IC 50 in HL60 cells. The cytotoxic activity of arucanolide was observed at lower concentrations compared to that of parthenolide, which has been reported to be a typical and simple germacranolide. The activity was found to be mainly due to apoptosis that was assessed by morphological findings, DNA ladder formation (24-36h), and flow cytometric analysis in HL60 cells. Western blotting and an apoptosis inhibition assay using caspase inhibitors did not demonstrate the activation of any caspases tested. However, the mitochondrial membrane potential of HL60 cells was lost after 24-h treatment with arucanolide, and concurrently apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) released from mitochondria was detected by Western blot analysis. The inactivation of nuclear factor-κB, which has been commonly shown in parthenolide-induced apoptosis, did not occur in arucanolide-induced apoptosis. Taken together, the findings presented here indicate that arucanolide induced marked apoptosis in HL60 cells mainly by dissipating mitochondrial membrane potential, which would trigger AIF-induced apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-252
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01-02-2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

Cite this