Background: Solamargine (SM), a steroidal glycoalkaloid isolated from the Chinese herb Solanum incanum, has been shown to inhibit the growth of some cancer cell lines and induce significant apoptosis. However, the effects of SM on multidrug-resistant (MDR) cells and the molecular mechanisms involved are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the anti-MDR effects of SM and the associated mechanisms in MDR K562/A02 cells.
Methods: The cytotoxicity of SM was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The 14',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) nuclear staining and flow cytometry were used to detect SM-induced apoptosis. The mRNA expression of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) was investigated by real-time PCR (RT-PCR). Western blotting was used to determine the expression of Bcl-2, Bax, and actin. The changes in the morphology of actin were examined with immunofluorescence staining.
Results: MTT results showed that SM effectively killed the MDR sublines K562/A02, KB/VCR, and H460/paclitaxel (Taxol), and their parental cell lines K562, KB, and H460 to an equivalent or more sensitive degree. Based on the results by flow cytometry and immunostaining, the pro-apoptotic effects of SM were observed in MDR K562/A02 cells. Furthermore, the RT-PCR results showed that SM induced the downregulation of MDR1 mRNA. In addition, the expression of P-gp and actin was decreased in the SM-treated cells, as measured by western blotting and immunostaining.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that SM effectively triggers apoptosis in MDR tumor cells, which is associated with actin disruption and downregulation of MDR1 expression. This compound may merit further investigation as a potential therapeutic agent that bypasses the MDR mechanism for the treatment of MDR tumors.