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BMC Cancer. 2012 Oct 5;12:453. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-12-453.

Involvement of Akt/NF-κB pathway in antitumor effects of parthenolide on glioblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Health Sciences, Oita University of Nursing and Sciences, 2944-9 Megusuno, Oita 870-1201, Japan.



Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive form of malignant glioma and is very difficult to treat. Controlling tumour cell invasion and angiogenesis is essential to improve the prognosis of glioblastoma patients. Since constitutive activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) is necessary for tumour progression, NF-κB may be an important pharmacological target for this disease. Our study aimed to evaluate the antitumour effects of parthenolide, a NF-κB inhibitor, in two human glioblastoma cell lines (U87MG and U373) and in glioblastoma xenografts. Furthermore, we aimed to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects.


The anti-invasive and anti-angiogenic effects of parthenolide were analysed using in vitro invasion and angiogenesis assays. Parthenolide-induced growth inhibition of glioblastoma cells in vitro was determined using the MTT (methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium) assay. In addition, the effect of parthenolide on orthotropic implantation in vivo was evaluated using an intracerebral human glioblastoma xenograft model.


We found that parthenolide suppresses proliferation, invasion, and tumour- induced angiogenesis of glioblastoma cells. Molecular studies demonstrated that parthenolide suppresses gene and protein expression of angiogenic factors. Furthermore, parthenolide reduced Akt phosphorylation and activated mitochondrial signalling, suggesting that the antitumour function of parthenolide may be mediated not only by the inhibition of NF-κB but also by the inhibition of Akt signalling and the activation of apoptotic proteins. Parthenolide suppressed neovascularity and tumour growth in glioblastoma xenografts.


The present study identified parthenolide as a new therapeutic agent for glioblastomas.

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