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      Emodin-induced autophagy against cell apoptosis through the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in human hepatocytes

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          Emodin, a major component of Polygonum multiflorum (PM), has been reported to exert both protective and toxic effects in several cell types. However, the effects and underlying mechanisms of action of emodin in hepatic cells are still obscure.


          The present study used the normal human liver cell line L02 to investigate the effects and mechanisms of emodin in hepatic cells. After treatment with emodin, L02 cells were examined for viability, apoptosis and autophagy with the Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8), annexin V/PerCP staining and GFP-LC3 plasmid transfection. The expression of proteins including cleaved caspase-3, LC3B-I/II, p-PI3K, PI3K, p-AKT, AKT, p-mTOR, mTOR and actin was examined by using Western blot.


          Emodin significantly inhibited the viability of and induced apoptosis in L02 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In addition, emodin increased the number of GFP-LC3 puncta in L02 cells and upregulated the expression of LC3B-II compared to those in control cells. Furthermore, emodin significantly decreased the expression of p-PI3K, p-AKT and p-mTOR in a dose-dependent manner compared to that in control cells without altering the expression of PI3K, AKT and mTOR. Notably, cotreatment with emodin and 3-methyladenine (3-MA) or rapamycin significantly increased and decreased the apoptosis rate of L02 cells, respectively, compared to that of cells treated with emodin alone.


           In conclusion, emodin exhibited cytotoxicity in the L02 human hepatic cell line by promoting apoptosis, and it also induced autophagy through the suppression of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling pathway. The autophagy could play a protective role following emodin treatment.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Cell death by autophagy: facts and apparent artefacts.

          Autophagy (the process of self-digestion by a cell through the action of enzymes originating within the lysosome of the same cell) is a catabolic process that is generally used by the cell as a mechanism for quality control and survival under nutrient stress conditions. As autophagy is often induced under conditions of stress that could also lead to cell death, there has been a propagation of the idea that autophagy can act as a cell death mechanism. Although there is growing evidence of cell death by autophagy, this type of cell death, often called autophagic cell death, remains poorly defined and somewhat controversial. Merely the presence of autophagic markers in a cell undergoing death does not necessarily equate to autophagic cell death. Nevertheless, studies involving genetic manipulation of autophagy in physiological settings provide evidence for a direct role of autophagy in specific scenarios. This article endeavours to summarise these physiological studies where autophagy has a clear role in mediating the death process and discusses the potential significance of cell death by autophagy.
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            Rapamycin attenuates mitochondrial dysfunction via activation of mitophagy in experimental ischemic stroke.

            Rapamycin has been demonstrated to exhibit neuroprotective functions via the activation of autophagy in a cerebral ischemia model. However, the involvement of mitophagy in this process and its contribution to the protection of mitochondrial function remains unknown. The present study explored the characteristics of mitophagy after cerebral ischemia and the effect of rapamycin on mitochondrial function. Male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO). Neurological deficits scores; infarct volumes; mitophagy morphology; and the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and mitochondrial membrane potentials (Δψm) were examined. The expression of LC3, Beclin-1 and p62 in the mitochondrial fraction combined with transmission electronic microscopy were used to explore mitophagic activity after ischemia. We also blocked autophagosome formation using 3-methyladenine (3-MA) to check the linkage between the mitochondrial protective effect of rapamycin and enhanced mitophagy. We observed that rapamycin significantly enhanced mitophagy, as evidenced by the increase in LC3-II and Beclin-1 expression in the mitochondria and p62 translocation to the mitochondria. Rapamycin reduced infarct volume, improved neurological outcomes and inhibited mitochondrial dysfunction compared with the control animals (p<0.05). However, these protective effects were reversed by 3-methyladenine treatment after rapamycin. The present study indicates that rapamycin treatment attenuates mitochondrial dysfunction following cerebral ischemia, which is linked to enhanced mitophagy.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: found
              Is Open Access

              A Role for Macro-ER-Phagy in ER Quality Control

              The endoplasmic-reticulum quality-control (ERQC) system shuttles misfolded proteins for degradation by the proteasome through the well-defined ER-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway. In contrast, very little is known about the role of autophagy in ERQC. Macro-autophagy, a collection of pathways that deliver proteins through autophagosomes (APs) for degradation in the lysosome (vacuole in yeast), is mediated by autophagy-specific proteins, Atgs, and regulated by Ypt/Rab GTPases. Until recently, the term ER-phagy was used to describe degradation of ER membrane and proteins in the lysosome under stress: either ER stress induced by drugs or whole-cell stress induced by starvation. These two types of stresses induce micro-ER-phagy, which does not use autophagic organelles and machinery, and non-selective autophagy. Here, we characterize the macro-ER-phagy pathway and uncover its role in ERQC. This pathway delivers 20–50% of certain ER-resident membrane proteins to the vacuole and is further induced to >90% by overexpression of a single integral-membrane protein. Even though such overexpression in cells defective in macro-ER-phagy induces the unfolded-protein response (UPR), UPR is not needed for macro-ER-phagy. We show that macro-ER-phagy is dependent on Atgs and Ypt GTPases and its cargo passes through APs. Moreover, for the first time the role of Atg9, the only integral-membrane core Atg, is uncoupled from that of other core Atgs. Finally, three sequential steps of this pathway are delineated: Atg9-dependent exit from the ER en route to autophagy, Ypt1- and core Atgs-mediated pre-autophagsomal-structure organization, and Ypt51-mediated delivery of APs to the vacuole.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                03 September 2019
                : 13
                : 3171-3180
                [1 ]Department of Pharmacy, Xinqiao Hospital, Army Medical University , Chongqing, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Department of Gastroenterology, Xinqiao Hospital, Army Medical University , Chongqing, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Shi-wen ZhouDepartment of Pharmacy, Xinqiao Hospital, Army Medical University , Chongqing 400037, People’s Republic of ChinaEmail zhouswxinqiao@126.com
                © 2019 Zheng et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 7, References: 30, Pages: 10
                Original Research


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