Stilbenoids, including resveratrol (3,5,4'-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) which is a naturally occurring phytoalexin abundant in grapes and several plants, have been shown to be active in inhibiting proliferation and inducing apoptosis in human cancer cell lines. Using resveratrol as the prototype, we have synthesized various analogs and evaluated their growth inhibitory effects in cultured human cancer cells. In the present study, we show that one of the stilbenoids, 3,4,5-trimethoxy-4'-bromo-cis-stilbene (BCS), was more effective than its corresponding trans-isomer and resveratrol on the inhibition of cancer cell growth. Prompted by the strong growth inhibitory activity of BCS (IC50; 0.03 microM) compared to its trans-isomer (IC50; 6.36 microM) and resveratrol (IC50; 33.0 microM) in cultured human lung cancer cells (A549), we investigated its mechanism of action. BCS induced arrest at the G2/M phase cell cycle in the early time and subsequently increased in the sub-G1 phase DNA contents in a time-dependent manner, indicating induction of apoptosis. Morphological observation with round-up shape and DNA fragmentation was also revealed the apoptotic phenomena. BCS treatment elevated the expression levels of the pro-apoptotic protein p53, the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21, and the release of cytochrome c in the cytosol. The down-regulation of checkpoint protein cyclin B1 by BCS was well correlated with the cell cycle arrest at G2/M. These data suggest the potential of BCS to serve as a cancer chemotherapeutic or chemopreventive agent by virtue of arresting the cell cycle and induction of apoptosis of human lung cancer cells.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.