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Int J Oncol. 2012 Apr;40(4):1058-65. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2011.1299. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Gomisin N enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis via reactive oxygen species-mediated up-regulation of death receptors 4 and 5.

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Division of Pathogenic Biochemistry, Institute of Natural Medicine, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.


Pharmacological studies have revealed that lignans isolated from Schisandra chinensis, including gomisin N, show anticancer, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is an important member of the tumor necrosis factor superfamily with great potential in cancer therapy. The present study investigated whether pretreatment with gomisin N significantly enhanced TRAIL-induced cleavage of caspase-3, caspase-8 and PARP-1, which are key markers of apoptosis. Pretreatment with z-VAD-FMK, a pan-caspase inhibitor, was able to inhibit apoptosis enhanced by the combination of gomisin N and TRAIL. These results suggested that gomisin N could promote TRAIL-induced apoptosis through the caspase cascade. In search of the molecular mechanisms, we elucidated that such enhancement was achieved through transcriptional up-regulation of TRAIL receptors, death receptor 4 (DR4) and DR5. Neutralization of DR4 and DR5 could significantly reduce apoptosis induced by gomisin N and TRAIL. We also revealed that gomisin N increased the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, could inhibit ROS production and up-regulation of DR4 and DR5. Overall, our results indicated that gomisin N was able to potentiate TRAIL-induced apoptosis through ROS-mediated up-regulation of DR4 and DR5.

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