Purpose: This study aims to observe the effects of notopterol on the apoptosis and differentiation of HL-60 cells and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Methods: Cell viability was assessed using sulforhodamine B assay. Cell proliferation was determined by the trypan blue dye exclusion test. Colony-forming units were assayed in methylcellulose. Apoptosis assays were carried out by annexin V-fluorescein isothiocyanate(FITC)/propidium iodide (PI) double staining, Hoechst 33342 staining, mitochondrial membrane potential, and Western blot. Wright–Giemsa staining, nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) reduction assay, CD11b and CD14 and Western blot were detected for induction of differentiation. In addition, cell-cycle phase distribution was analyzed by flow cytometry and Western blot. The combination therapy of notopterol and all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) on HL-60 cells was examined.
Results: Notopterol obviously inhibited the growth of HL-60 cells with an IC 50 value of 40.32 μM and remarkably reduced the number of colonies by 10, 20, and 40 µM. In addtion, notopterol induced the percentage of apoptotic HL-60 cells, reduced the mitochondrial membrane potential, decreased the protein expresstion of Bcl-2 and Mcl-1, and increased the expression of Bax, cleavage of caspase 9, caspase 3, and PARP. As for cell differentiation, notopterol clearly induced chromatin condensation; increased the nucleocytoplasmic ratio, nitroblue tetrazolium-positive cells, expression of CD14 and CD11b, and protein expression of c-Jun and Jun B, and decreased c-myc. Furthermore, notopterol induced the G0/G1 cell-cycle arrest as determined using flow cytometry, which may be related to the regulation of cell-cycle-related proteins p53, CDK2, CDK4, Cyclin D1, Cyclin E, and survivin. The combined use of notopterol and ATRA did not enhance the apoptotic effect as evidenced by cell viability test and Hoechst 33342. However, the combination of notopterol and ATRA enhanced the effect of inducing differentiation when compared with using either notopterol or ATRA alone, which can be evidenced by the increased nucleocytoplasmic ratio, NBT positive cells, and expression of CD14.
Conclusion: This is the first time it has been demonstrated that notopterol could induce apoptosis, differentiation, and G0/G1 arrest in human AML HL-60 cells, suggesting that notopterol has potential therapeutic effects on AML. The combination application of notopterol (20 and 40 μM) and ATRA (2 μM) could augment differentiation of HL-60 cells.