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Chem Biol Interact. 2013 Jul 5;204(2):105-15. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2013.05.005. Epub 2013 May 21.

Brazilein suppresses migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.

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Department of Medicinal and Applied Chemistry, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan.


Brazilein, a bioactive compound isolated from Caesalpinia sappan L., has long been used in oriental folk medicines. Cancer metastasis is a primary cause of cancer death. However, the anti-metastatic effects of brazilein remain elusive. In this study, we found that brazilein inhibited human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cell migration and invasion using wound-healing assay and Boyden chamber assay. The results of Western blot, gelatin zymography and reversed transcription-PCR analysis showed that brazilein suppressed matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) expression in a concentration-dependent manner. Brazilein also decreased the nuclear protein level of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB). Brazilein potently suppressed the phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), phosphatidylinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) and Akt, but did not affect phosphorylation of extracellular signal regulating kinase (ERK)1/2 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Additionally, treatment of SB203580 (p38 MAPK inhibitor) or wortmannin (PI3K inhibitor) resulted in a reduced activity and expression of MMP-2 as well as inhibition on cell migration and invasion in MDA-MB-231 cells. Taken together, these results suggest that brazilein inhibition of MDA-MB-231 cells may be mediated through inactivation of both PI3K/Akt and p38 MAPK signaling pathways, leading to inhibitory effect on NF-κB activation. Consequently, brazilein suppresses MMP-2 expression, and thus confers anti-migration and anti-invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells.

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