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Mol Med Rep. 2014 Jan;9(1):39-44. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2013.1783. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Triptolide induces apoptosis in endometrial cancer via a p53‑independent mitochondrial pathway.

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Changzhou Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Changzhou 213003, P.R. China.


Triptolide (TP), the primary active component purified from the traditional Chinese herbal medicine Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. F (TWHF), has been shown to possess antitumor activity in several types of solid tumors. In the present study, we investigated the antitumor effect of TP in human endometrial cancer cells (HEC-1B) and elucidated its possible underlying mechanisms. HEC-1B cells were treated with various doses of TP (10, 20, 40, 80, 160 and 320 nM), and the cell viability was assessed by Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) and flow cytometric analysis. Results indicated that TP inhibited the proliferation of HEC-1B cells in a dose- and time‑dependent manner. To further investigate its mechanisms, the levels of apoptosis and the changes in caspase-3/9 expression in HEC-1B cells by pretreatment with z-VAD-fmk, a pan-caspase inhibitor, were detected by CCK-8 and western blotting. The cytotoxic effects of TP were significantly inhibited by z-VAD‑fmk. At the molecular level, TP did not effectively activate the p53 signaling pathway, but upregulated caspase-3/9 and downregulated bcl-2 without changing the bax level. Our studies revealed that TP has an effect on the apoptotic ability of endometrial cancer cells via a p53-independent mitochondrial pathway, presenting a novel strategy to evade drug resistance in tumorigenesis. The ability of TP to be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for endometrial cancer should be considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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