Dehydrocostuslactone suppresses angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo through inhibition of Akt/GSK-3β and mTOR signaling pathways

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031195. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


The traditional Chinese medicine component dehydrocostuslactone (DHC) isolated from Saussurea costus (Falc.) Lipschitz, has been shown to have anti-cancer activity. Angiogenesis is an essential process in the growth and progression of cancer. In this study, we demonstrated, for the first time, the anti-angiogenic mechanism of action of DHC to be via the induction of cell cycle progression at the G0/G1 phase due to abrogation of the Akt/glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β)/cyclin D1 and mTOR signaling pathway. First, we demonstrated that DHC has an anti-angiogenic effect in the matrigel-plug nude mice model and an inhibitory effect on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) proliferation and capillary-like tube formation in vitro. DHC caused G0/G1 cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the down-regulation of cyclin D1 expression, leading to the suppression of retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation and subsequent inhibition of cyclin A and cdk2 expression. With respect to the molecular mechanisms underlying the DHC-induced cyclin D1 down-regulation, this study demonstrated that DHC significantly inhibits Akt expression, resulting in the suppression of GSK-3β phosphorylation and mTOR expression. These effects are capable of regulating cyclin D1 degradation, but they were significantly reversed by constitutively active myristoylated (myr)-Akt. Furthermore, the abrogation of tube formation induced by DHC was also reversed by overexpression of Akt. And the co-treatment with LiCl and DHC significantly reversed the growth inhibition induced by DHC. Taken together, our study has identified Akt/GSK-3β and mTOR as important targets of DHC and has thus highlighted its potential application in angiogenesis-related diseases, such as cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Humans
  • Lactones / pharmacology*
  • Lactones / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Sesquiterpenes / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Lactones
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • dehydrocostus lactone
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • GSK3B protein, human
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3