Activity of triptolide against human mast cells harboring the kinase domain mutant KIT

Cancer Sci. 2009 Jul;100(7):1335-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2009.01159.x. Epub 2009 Apr 3.


Gain-of-function mutations of the receptor tyrosine kinase KIT can cause systemic mastocytosis (SM) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Most of the constitutively active KIT can be inhibited by imatinib; D816V KIT cannot. In this study, we investigated the activity of triptolide, a diterpenoid isolated from the Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f., in cells expressing mutant KIT, including D816V KIT. Imatinib-sensitive HMC-1.1 cells harboring the mutation V560G in the juxtamembrane domain of KIT, imatinib-resistant HMC-1.2 cells harboring both V560G and D816V mutations, and murine P815 cells, were treated with triptolide, and analyzed in terms of growth, apoptosis, and signal transduction. The in vivo antitumor activity was evaluated by using the nude mouse xenograft model. Our results demonstrated that triptolide potently inhibits the growth of both human and murine mast cells harboring not only imatinib-sensitive KIT mutation but also imatinib-resistant D816V KIT. Triptolide markedly inhibited KIT mRNA levels and strikingly reduced the levels of phosphorylated and total Stat3, Akt, and Erk1/2, downstream targets of KIT. Triptolide triggered apoptosis by inducing depolarization of mitochondrial potential and release of cytochrome c, downregulation of Mcl-1 and XIAP. Furthermore, triptolide significantly abrogated the growth of imatinib-resistant HMC-1.2 cell xenografts in nude mice and decreased KIT expression in xenografts. Our data demonstrate that triptolide inhibits imatinib-resistant mast cells harboring D816V KIT. Further investigation of triptolide for treatment of human neoplasms driven by gain-of-function KIT mutations is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / pharmacology*
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Epoxy Compounds / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / drug effects*
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mutation*
  • Phenanthrenes / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Diterpenes
  • Epoxy Compounds
  • Phenanthrenes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • triptolide
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit