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Int J Oncol. 2011 Feb;38(2):485-92. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2010.878. Epub 2010 Dec 17.

Berberine sensitizes TRAIL-induced apoptosis through proteasome-mediated downregulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 proteins.

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Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, 317-1 Daemyung-Dong Nam-Gu, Daegu 705-717, Republic of Korea.


Berberine (BBR) is an isoquinoline alkaloid which has a wide spectrum of clinical applications including anti-tumor, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activities. In this study, we showed that co-treatment with subtoxic doses of BBR and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced apoptosis in human renal cancer cells, Caki cells, but not in normal tubular kidney cells. Treatment of Caki cells with BBR resulted in downregulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 proteins in a dose-dependent manner. The BBR-induced downregulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 proteins were involved in proteasome dependent pathways, which was confirmed by the result that pre-treatment with the proteasome inhibitor MG132 inhibited berberine-induced downregulation of the c-FLIP and Mcl-1 proteins. Pretreatment with N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) significantly inhibited the cell death induced by the combined treatment with BBR and TRAIL as well as recovered the expression levels of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 downregulated by treatment with BBR. These results suggested that BBR-stimulated TRAIL-induced apoptosis is dependent on the generation of reactive oxygen species through the downregulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 proteins. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that BBR enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis in human renal cancer cells by ROS-mediated c-FLIP and Mcl-1 down-regulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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