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Cancer Res. 2005 Mar 1;65(5):1984-93.

Jasmonates: novel anticancer agents acting directly and selectively on human cancer cell mitochondria.

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Department of Human Microbiology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


We reported previously that jasmonates can kill human cancer cells. Many chemotherapeutic drugs induce mitochondrial membrane permeability transition, membrane depolarization, osmotic swelling, and release of cytochrome c, involving the opening of the permeability transition pore complex (PTPC). Because jasmonates exert their cytotoxic effects independent of transcription, translation, and p53 expression, we hypothesized that these compounds may act directly on mitochondria. Mitochondrial membrane depolarization was determined by flow cytometry, and cytochrome c release by Western blotting. Mitochondria were isolated by mechanical lysis and differential centrifugation. Cytotoxicity was measured by a tetrazolium-based assay, and mitochondrial swelling by spectrophotometry. Jasmonates induced membrane depolarization and cytochrome c release in intact human cancer cell lines. Jasmonates induced swelling in mitochondria isolated from Hep 3B hepatoma cells, but not in mitochondria isolated from 3T3 nontransformed cells or from normal lymphocytes, in a PTPC-mediated manner. Methyl jasmonate induced the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria isolated from cancer cell lines in a PTPC-mediated manner, but not from mitochondria isolated from normal lymphocytes. A correlation was found between cytotoxicity of methyl jasmonate and the percentage of leukemic cells in the blood of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Jasmonates induced membrane depolarization in CLL cells, and swelling and release of cytochrome c in mitochondria isolated from these cells. In conclusion, jasmonates act directly on mitochondria derived from cancer cells in a PTPC-mediated manner, and could therefore bypass premitochondrial apoptotic blocks. Jasmonates are promising candidates for the treatment of CLL and other types of cancer.

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