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Int J Mol Med. 2019 Mar 5. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2019.4122. [Epub ahead of print]

Honokiol induces apoptosis and suppresses migration and invasion of ovarian carcinoma cells via AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway.

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Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 35015, Republic of Korea.
Surgical Oncology Research Laboratory, Chungnam National University Hospital, Daejeon 35015, Republic of Korea.
Research Institute for Medicinal Sciences, College of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 35015, Republic of Korea.


Honokiol, a natural biphenolic compound, exerts anticancer effects through a variety of mechanisms on multiple types of cancer with relatively low toxicity. Adenosine 5'‑phosphate‑activated protein kinase (AMPK), an essential regulator of cellular homeostasis, may control cancer progression. The present study aimed to investigate whether the anticancer activities of honokiol in ovarian cancer cells were mediated through the activation of AMPK. Honokiol decreased cell viability of 2 ovarian cancer cell lines, with an half‑maximal inhibitory concentration value of 48.71±11.31 µM for SKOV3 cells and 46.42±5.37 µM for Caov‑3 cells. Honokiol induced apoptosis via activation of caspase‑3, caspase‑7 and caspase‑9, and cleavage of poly‑(adenosine 5'‑diphosphate‑ribose) polymerase. Apoptosis induced by honokiol was weakened by compound C, an AMPK inhibitor, suggesting that honokiol‑induced apoptosis was dependent on the AMPK/mechanistic target of rapamycin signaling pathway. Additionally, honokiol inhibited the migration and invasion of ovarian cancer cells. The combined treatment of honokiol with compound C reversed the activities of honokiol in wound healing and Matrigel invasion assays. These results indicated that honokiol may have therapeutic potential in ovarian cancer by targeting AMPK activation.


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