Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28596. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028596. Epub 2011 Dec 9.

Oleanolic acid initiates apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines and reduces metastasis of a B16F10 melanoma model in vivo.

Author information

Laboratório de Imunologia Celular, Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas Filho, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



Drug resistance, a process mediated by multiple mechanisms, is a critical determinant for treating lung cancer. The aim of this study is to determine if oleanolic acid (OA), a pentacyclic triterpene present in several plants, is able to circumvent the mechanisms of drug resistance present in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines and to induce their death.


OA decreased the cell viability of the NSCLC cell lines A459 and H460 despite the presence of active, multidrug-resistant (MDR) MRP1/ABCC1 proteins and the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and survivin. These effects are due to apoptosis, as evidenced by the capacity of OA to induce fragmentation of DNA and activate caspase 3. Induction of NSCLC cell death by OA cannot be explained by inhibition of the MDR proteins, since treatment with triterpene had little or no effect on the activity or expression of MRP1. Moreover, treatment with OA had no effect on the expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2, but increased the expression of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax, altering the Bcl-2/Bax balance towards a pro-apoptotic profile. OA also decreased the expression of the anti-apoptotic protein survivin. Furthermore, OA decreased the expression of the angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and decreased the development of melanoma-induced lung metastasis.


Our data provide a significant insight into the antitumoral and antimetastatic activity of OA in NSCLC and suggest that including OA in the NSCLC regimens may help to decrease the number of relapses and reduce the development of metastases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center