The germacranolide sesquiterpene lactone neurolenin B of the medicinal plant Neurolaena lobata (L.) R.Br. ex Cass inhibits NPM/ALK-driven cell expansion and NF-κB-driven tumour intravasation

Phytomedicine. 2015 Aug 15;22(9):862-74. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2015.06.003. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


Background: The t(2;5)(p23;q35) chromosomal translocation results in the expression of the fusion protein NPM/ALK that when expressed in T-lymphocytes gives rise to anaplastic large cell lymphomas (ALCL). In search of new therapy options the dichloromethane extract of the ethnomedicinal plant Neurolaena lobata (L.) R.Br. ex Cass was shown to inhibit NPM/ALK expression.

Purpose: Therefore, we analysed whether the active principles that were recently isolated and found to inhibit inflammatory responses specifically inhibit growth of NPM/ALK+ ALCL, leukaemia and breast cancer cells, but not of normal cells, and the intravasation through the lymphendothelial barrier.

Methods: ALCL, leukaemia and breast cancer cells, and normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were treated with isolated sesquiterpene lactones and analysed for cell cycle progression, proliferation, mitochondrial activity, apoptosis, protein and mRNA expression, NF-κB and cytochrome P450 activity, 12(S)-HETE production and lymphendothelial intravasation.

Results: In vitro treatment of ALCL by neurolenin B suppressed NPM/ALK, JunB and PDGF-Rβ expression, inhibited the growth of ALCL cells late in M phase, and induced apoptosis via caspase 3 without compromising mitochondrial activity (as a measure of general exogenic toxicity). Moreover, neurolenin B attenuated tumour spheroid intravasation probably through inhibition of NF-κB and CYP1A1.

Conclusion: Neurolenin B specifically decreased pro-carcinogenic NPM/ALK expression in ALK+ ALCL cells and, via the inhibition of NF-kB signalling, attenuated tumour intra/extravasation into the lymphatics. Hence, neurolenin B may open new options to treat ALCL and to manage early metastatic processes to which no other therapies exist.

Keywords: 3D-compound testing; ALCL; Intravasation; NPM/ALK; Neurolenins; Toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Asteraceae / chemistry*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Lactones / pharmacology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Lymphoma, Large-Cell, Anaplastic / pathology*
  • Molecular Structure
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Sesquiterpenes, Germacrane / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Lactones
  • NF-kappa B
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Sesquiterpenes, Germacrane
  • germacranolide
  • neurolenin B
  • p80(NPM-ALK) protein
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases