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Exp Ther Med. 2017 Jul;14(1):805-812. doi: 10.3892/etm.2017.4547. Epub 2017 Jun 6.

Cucurbitacin B inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in human osteosarcoma cells via modulation of the JAK2/STAT3 and MAPK pathways.

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Department of Orthopedics, Zhumadian Central Hospital, Zhumadian, Henan 463600, P.R. China.
Department of Health Management, Dongying People's Hospital, Dongying, Shandong 257000, P.R. China.
Department of Joint Surgery, Zhengzhou Central Hospital Affiliated to Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, Henan 450007, P.R. China.


Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most commonly diagnosed tumor of the bones in children and young adults. Even with conventional therapies the 5-year survival rate is ~65% in patients with OS. Considering the side effects and aggressiveness of malignant bone tumors, research is focussing on multi-targeted strategies in treatment. Cucurbitacin B, a triterpenoid compound has been demonstrated to induce apoptosis in various cancer cell types. The Janus kinase 2/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (JAK2/STAT3) signalling cascades and mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPK) signalling cascades are critical regulators of tumorigenesis. The present study assessed the influence of cucurbitacin B on the viability and expression of MAPKs and proteins of the JAK2/STAT3 cascades in human OS cells (U-2 OS). Cucurbitacin B (20-100 µM) significantly reduced cell viability (P<0.05) and induced apoptosis, as assessed by MTT and Annexin V/propidium iodide staining, along with inhibiting cell migration. Gelatin zymography revealed supressed activities of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-)2 and 9. Furthermore, cucurbitacin B effectively upregulated the apoptotic pathway and caused the effective inhibition of MAPK signalling and JAK2/STAT3 cascades. Multifold suppression of vascular endothelial growth factor by cucurbitacin B was also observed, indicating inhibition of angiogenesis. Thus, by downregulating major pathways-MAPK and JAK2/STAT3 and MMPs, cucurbitacin B has potent anti-proliferative and anti-metastatic effects that require further investigation with regards to cancer treatment.


Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription pathway; apoptosis; cucurbitacin; mitogen activated protein kinases; osteosarcoma

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