Lupeol, a fruit and vegetable based triterpene, induces apoptotic death of human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells via inhibition of Ras signaling pathway

Carcinogenesis. 2005 Nov;26(11):1956-64. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgi157. Epub 2005 Jun 15.


Pancreatic cancer is an exceptionally aggressive disease, the treatment of which has largely been unsuccessful due to higher resistance offered by pancreatic cancer cells to conventional approaches such as surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. The aberration of Ras oncoprotein has been linked to the induction of multiple signaling pathways and to the resistance offered by pancreatic cancer cells to apoptosis. Therefore, there is a need for development of new and effective chemotherapeutic agents which can target multiple pathways to induce responsiveness of pancreatic cancer cells to death signals. In this study, human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells AsPC-1 were used to investigate the effect of Lupeol on cell growth and its effects on the modulation of multiple Ras-induced signaling pathways. Lupeol caused a dose-dependent inhibition of cell growth as assessed by MTT assay and induction of apoptosis as assessed by flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy and western blotting. Lupeol treatment to cells was found to significantly reduce the expression of Ras oncoprotein and modulate the protein expression of various signaling molecules involved in PKCalpha/ODC, PI3K/Akt and MAPKs pathways along with a significant reduction in the activation of NFkappaB signaling pathway. Our data suggest that Lupeol can adopt a multi-prong strategy to target multiple signaling pathways leading to induction of apoptosis and inhibition of growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Lupeol could be a potential agent against pancreatic cancer, however, further in-depth in vivo studies are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C-alpha / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vegetables / chemistry
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • NF-kappa B
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Triterpenes
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Protein Kinase C-alpha
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • ras Proteins
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase
  • lupeol