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Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):224-35. doi: 10.1177/1534735410367647. Epub 2010 May 11.

Antiangiogenic activity of ursolic acid.

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Department of Immunology, Amala Cancer Research Centre, Amala Nagar, Thrissur, Kerala, India.


Angiogenesis, the formation of new capillaries from preexisting vessels, is essential for tumor progression. Ursolic acid inhibited the tumor-associated capillary formation in C57BL/6 mice induced by highly metastatic B16F-10 melanoma cells. The levels of serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), NO, and proinflammatory cytokines were significantly reduced in ursolic acid-treated animals compared with those in control animals. The diminished expressions of VEGF and iNOS genes in B16F-10 melanoma cells treated with nontoxic concentrations of ursolic acid support these observations; the serum TIMP-1 (tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1) and IL-2 (interleukin-2) levels were significantly elevated after the ursolic acid treatment. Nontoxic concentrations of ursolic acid toward human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were determined by MTT (methylthiazol tetrazolium) assay, and these nontoxic concentrations were selected for the in vitro studies. Nontoxic concentrations of ursolic acid inhibited vessel growth from the rat aortic ring. (3)H-thymidine proliferation assay clearly showed the inhibitory effect of ursolic acid on the proliferation of HUVECs in vitro. Ursolic acid significantly inhibited endothelial cell migration and invasion. The role of metalloproteinases has been shown to be important in angiogenesis; therefore, gelatin zymography was performed to determine whether ursolic acid affected protease activity. Gelatin zymographic analysis showed the inhibitory effect of ursolic acid on the protein expression of matrix metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9. The above observation shows the antiangiogenic activity of ursolic acid.

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