The present study investigated the anticancer activity of 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone against different cancer cells such as MCF-7, COLO320, HepG-2, Skov-3, MOLM-14, NB-4, CEM, K562, Jurkat, HL-60, U937, IM-9 and Vero. 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone showed good antiproliferative activity against COLO320 cells when compared to other tested cells. The cytotoxicity results showed 79.8% activity at the dose of 2.07 μM with IC50 value of 0.13 μM at 24 h in COLO320 cells. So we chose COLO320 cells for further anticancer studies. mRNA expression was confirmed by qPCR analysis using SYBR green method. Treatment with 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone was found to trigger intrinsic apoptotic pathway as indicated by down regulation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xl; up regulation of Bim, Bax, Bad; release of cytochrome c and pro-caspases cleaving to caspases. Furthermore, 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone stopped at G0/G1 phase with modulation in protein levels of cyclins. On the other hand PI3K/AKT signaling plays an important role in cell metabolism. We found that 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone inhibits PI3K/AKT activity after treatment. Also, COX-2 enzyme plays a major role in colorectal cancer. Our results showed that the treatment significantly reduced COX-2 enzyme in COLO320 cells. These results indicated antiproliferative activity of 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone involving apoptotic pathways, mitochondrial functions, cell cycle checkpoint and controlling the over expression genes during the colorectal cancer. Molecular docking studies showed that the compound bound stably to the active sites of Bcl-2, COX-2, PI3K and AKT. This is the first report of anticancer mechanism involving 2,3-dihydroxy-9,10-anthraquinone in COLO320 cells. The present results might provide helpful suggestions for the design of antitumor drugs toward colorectal cancer treatment.
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