Objectives: To investigate the effect of a Chinese traditional medicine, gambogic acid (GA), on human malignant melanoma (MM) A375 cells and to study the mechanism of apoptosis induced by GA.
Methods: A375 cells were treated with GA at different doses and for different times, and their proliferation and viability were detected by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Apoptosis induced by GA in A375 cells was observed by annexin-V/propidium iodide doubling staining flow cytometry assay and Hoechst staining. To further determine the molecular mechanism of apoptosis induced by GA, the changes in expression of Bcl-2 and Bax were detected by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot, and caspase-3 activity was measured by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probe.
Results: After incubation with GA, A375 cell proliferation was dramatically inhibited in a dose-dependent manner. After these cells had been exposed to GA for 24, 36 and 48 h, the IC(50) values were 1.57 +/- 0.05, 1.31 +/- 0.20, and 1.12 +/- 0.19 microg/mL, respectively. Treatment of A375 cells with GA (2.5-7.5 microg/mL) for 36 h resulted in an increased number of early apoptotic cells, which ranged from 27.6% to 41.9%, in a dose-dependent manner, compared with only 3.5% apoptotic cells in the non-GA-treated group. An increase in Bax and decrease in Bcl-2 expression were found by real-time RT-PCR and Western blot. Caspase-3 activity was increased in a dose-dependent manner, observed by FRET probe.
Conclusion: GA can inhibit the proliferation of A375 cells and induce their apoptosis, which may be related to the up-regulation of the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and caspase-3 activity.