Apigenin inhibits HGF-promoted invasive growth and metastasis involving blocking PI3K/Akt pathway and beta 4 integrin function in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2008 Jan 15;226(2):178-91. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2007.09.013. Epub 2007 Sep 21.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor, Met, known to control invasive growth program have recently been shown to play crucial roles in the survival of breast cancer patients. The diet-derived flavonoids have been reported to possess anti-invasion properties; however, knowledge on the pharmacological and molecular mechanisms in suppressing HGF/Met-mediated tumor invasion and metastasis is poorly understood. In our preliminary study, we use HGF as an invasive inducer to investigate the effect of flavonoids including apigenin, naringenin, genistein and kaempferol on HGF-dependent invasive growth of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells. Results show that apigenin presents the most potent anti-migration and anti-invasion properties by Boyden chamber assay. Furthermore, apigenin represses the HGF-induced cell motility and scattering and inhibits the HGF-promoted cell migration and invasion in a dose-dependent manner. The effect of apigenin on HGF-induced signaling activation involving invasive growth was evaluated by immunoblotting analysis, it shows that apigenin blocks the HGF-induced Akt phosphorylation but not Met, ERK, and JNK phosphorylation. In addition to MDA-MB-231 cells, apigenin exhibits inhibitory effect on HGF-induced Akt phosphorylation in hepatoma SK-Hep1 cells and lung carcinoma A549 cells. By indirect immunofluorescence microscopy assay, apigenin inhibits the HGF-induced clustering of beta 4 integrin at actin-rich adhesive site and lamellipodia through PI3K-dependent manner. Treatment of apigenin inhibited HGF-stimulated integrin beta 4 function including cell-matrix adhesion and cell-endothelial cells adhesion in MDA-MB-231 cells. By Akt-siRNA transfection analysis, it confirmed that apigenin inhibited HGF-promoted invasive growth involving blocking PI3K/Akt pathway. Finally, we evaluated the effect of apigenin on HGF-promoted metastasis by lung colonization of tumor cells in nude mice and organ metastasis of tumor cells in chick embryo. By histological and gross examination of mouse lung and real-time PCR analysis of human alu in host tissues, it showed that apigenin, wortmannin, as well as anti-beta 4 antibody all inhibit HGF-promoted metastasis. These data support the inhibitory effect of apigenin on HGF-promoted invasive growth and metastasis involving blocking PI3K/Akt pathway and integrin beta 4 function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apigenin / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Chick Embryo
  • Female
  • Flavanones / pharmacology
  • Genistein / pharmacology
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Integrin beta4 / physiology*
  • Kaempferols / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Flavanones
  • Integrin beta4
  • Kaempferols
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • kaempferol
  • Apigenin
  • Genistein
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • naringenin