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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;599:139-46.

Triptolide alters mitochondrial functions.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Triptolide (TPL), a small molecule purified from the herb Tripterygium wilfordii, has potential clinical application for suppression of chronic autoimmune disorders and inhibition of tumor growth. However, its mechanism of action is largely unknown. In this study, the effect of TPL on mitochondria was explored with a panel of molecular probes that detect the alteration of mitochondrial functions. When Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells were treated with different doses of TPL for four hours, impaired mitochondrial functions were detected. This included an increased production of reactive oxygen species, the opening of the transition pore of mitochondria, the depolarization of the mitochondria membrane, the inhibition of the production of ATP and increased release of ATP as well as the induction of apoptosis. It is likely that by impairment of mitochondrial function, TPL exerts its inhibitory effect on growth of tumor and progression of inflammatory disease.

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