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Mol Med Rep. 2012 Sep;6(3):477-82. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2012.959. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Parthenolide induces apoptosis and lytic cytotoxicity in Epstein-Barr virus-positive Burkitt lymphoma.

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Department of Hematology, Zhongshan Hospital, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361004, PR China.


Burkitt lymphoma (BL) has been reported to be strongly associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. The fact that EBV is generally present in cancer cells but rarely found in healthy cells represents an opportunity for targeted cancer therapy. One approach is to activate the lytic replication cycle of the latent EBV. Nuclear factor (NF)-κB is thought to play an essential role in EBV lytic infection. Elevated NF-κB levels inhibit EBV lytic replication. Parthenolide (PN) is a sesquiterpene lactone found in medicinal plants, particularly in feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). The aim of the present study was to analyze the effect of PN on the survival of Raji EBV-positive lymphoma cells. Raji cells were treated with 0, 4 or 6 µmol/l PN for 48 h. MTT assay and western blot analysis were performed to evaluate the findings. Results showd that PN suppressed the growth of the EBV-positive BL cell line, Raji, and activated the transcription of BZLF1 and BRLF1 by inhibiting NF-κB activity. Most notably, when PN was used in combination with ganciclovir (GCV), the cytotoxic effect of PN was amplified. These data suggest that the induction of lytic EBV infection with PN in combination with GCV may be a viral‑targeted therapy for EBV-associated BL.

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