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Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 15;69(2):518-25. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-2531.

Morelloflavone, a biflavonoid, inhibits tumor angiogenesis by targeting rho GTPases and extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling pathways.

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Institute of Biomedical Sciences and School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.


Morelloflavone, a biflavonoid extracted from Garcinia dulcis, has shown antioxidative, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the function and the mechanism of this compound in cancer treatment and tumor angiogenesis have not been elucidated to date. In this study, we postulated that morelloflavone might have the ability to inhibit angiogenesis, the pivotal step in tumor growth, invasiveness, and metastasis. We showed that morelloflavone could inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced cell proliferation, migration, invasion, and capillary-like tube formation of primary cultured human umbilical vascular endothelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. Morelloflavone effectively inhibited microvessel sprouting of endothelial cells in the mouse aortic ring assay and the formation of new blood microvessels induced by VEGF in the mouse Matrigel plug assay. Furthermore, morelloflavone inhibited tumor growth and tumor angiogenesis of prostate cancer cells (PC-3) in xenograft mouse tumor model in vivo, suggesting that morelloflavone inhibited tumorigenesis by targeting angiogenesis. To understand the underlying mechanism of morelloflavone on the inhibitory effect of tumor growth and angiogenesis, we showed that morelloflavone could inhibit the activation of both RhoA and Rac1 GTPases but have little effect on the activation of Cdc42 GTPase. Additionally, morelloflavone inhibited the phosphorylation and activation of Raf/mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase/ERK pathway kinases without affecting VEGF receptor 2 activity. Together, our results indicate that morelloflavone exerts antiangiogenic action by targeting the activation of Rho-GTPases and ERK signaling pathways. These findings are the first to reveal the novel functions of morelloflavone in tumor angiogenesis and its molecular basis for the anticancer action.

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