Aim: To investigate the effects and the molecular mechanisms of fucoxanthin, a major carotenoid found in edible seaweed, on HeLa cells.
Methods: The cytotoxicity of fucoxanthin was evaluated using MTT assay. Cell cycle and apoptosis were evaluated using flow cytometric analysis. Autophagy was detected with acridine orange staining and transient transfection of the GFP-LC3 plasmid into the cells. Protein expression was detected with Western blotting.
Results: Treatment of HeLa cells with fucoxanthin (10-80 μmol/L) for 48 h caused dose-dependent cytotoxicity with an IC50 value of 55.1±7.6 μmol/L. Fucoxanthin (10, 20, and 40 μmol/L) dose-dependently induced G0/G1 arrest, but did not change the apoptosis of HeLa cells. The same concentrations of fucoxanthin dose-dependently increased the protein expression of LC3 II (the autophagosome marker) and Beclin 1 (the initiation factor for autophagosome formation) in HeLa cells. Moreover, fucoxanthin dose-dependently decreased the levels of phosphorylated Akt and its downstream proteins p53, p70S6K, and mTOR, and increases the expression of PTEN in HeLa cells. Pretreatment of HeLa cells with 3-methyladenine (5 mmol/L) blocked the cytotoxic effect of fucoxanthin as well as fucoxanthin-induced autophagy.
Conclusion: Fucoxanthin exerts autophagy-dependent cytotoxic effect in HeLa cells via inhibition of Akt/mTOR signaling pathway.