Inhibiting inducible miR-223 further reduces viable cells in human cancer cell lines MCF-7 and PC3 treated by celastrol

BMC Cancer. 2015 Nov 9;15:873. doi: 10.1186/s12885-015-1909-2.


Background: Celastrol is a novel anti-tumor agent. Ways to further enhance this effect of celastrol has attracted much research attention.

Methods and results: Here, we report that celastrol treatment can elevate miR-223 in human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 and prostate cancer PC3. Down-regulating miR-223 could increase the number of viable cells, yet it further reduced viable cells in samples that were treated by celastrol; up-regulation of miR-223 displayed opposite effects. Celastrol's miR-223 induction might be due to NF-κB inhibition and transient mTOR activation: these two events occurred prior to miR-223 elevation in celastrol-treated cells. NF-κB inhibitor, like celastrol, could induce miR-223; the induction of miR-223 by NF-κB inhibitor or celastrol was reduced by the use of mTOR inhibitor. Finally and interestingly, miR-223 also could affect NF-κB and mTOR and the effects were different between cells treated or not treated with celastrol, thus providing an explanation for differing effects of miR-223 alteration on cellular viability in the presence of celastrol or not.

Conclusions: For the first time, we disclose that celastrol could induce miR-223 in breast and prostate cancer cells, and that inhibiting miR-223 could further reduce the living cells in celastrol-treated cancer cell lines. We thus provide a novel way to increase celastrol's anti-cancer effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis*
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Triterpenes / administration & dosage*


  • MIRN223 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • NF-kappa B
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Triterpenes
  • celastrol