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Cell Biol Toxicol. 2006 Nov;22(6):393-408. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

Glioblastoma cell death induced by asiatic acid.

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Biomaterials Science and Engineering Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Asiatic acid (AA), a triterpene, is known to be cytotoxic to several tumor cell lines. AA induces dose- and time-dependent cell death in U-87 MG human glioblastoma. This cell death occurs via both apoptosis and necrosis. The effect of AA may be cell type-specific as AA-induced cell death was mainly apoptotic in colon cancer RKO cells. AA-induced glioblastoma cell death is associated with decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, activation of caspase-9 and -3, and increased intracellular free Ca2+. Although treatment of glioblastoma cells with the caspase inhibitor zVAD-fmk completely abolished AA-induced caspase activation, it did not significantly block AA-induced cell death. AA-induced cell death was significantly prevented by an intracellular Ca2+ inhibitor, BAPTA/AM. Taken together, these results indicate that AA induces cell death by both apoptosis and necrosis, with Ca2+-mediated necrotic cell death predominating.

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