Polysaccharides from medicinal plants exert antitumor activity in many cancers. Our previous study demonstrated that polysaccharides extracted from the selenium-enriched Pyracantha fortuneana (Se-PFPs) showed antiproliferative effect in breast cancer cell line. This study aimed to investigate the antitumor effect of Se-PFPs in ovarian cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Se-PFPs could decrease cell viability, induce apoptosis, and inhibit migratory and invasive potentials in HEY and SKOV3 cells. These findings are supported by reduced expression of cyclin D1, Bcl-2 and MMP-9, enhanced cleavage of PARP and caspase-3, elevated activity of caspase-3 and caspase-9, and EMT (epithelial to mesenchymal transition) inhibition (elevated expression of E-cadherin and cytokeratin 19, and reduced expression of N-cadherin, vimentin, ZEB1 and ZEB2). Moreover, Se-PFPs inhibited xenografted tumor growth through inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing cell apoptosis. More importantly, Se-PFPs significantly reduced cytoplasmic β-catenin particularly nuclear β-catenin expression but increased β-catenin phosphorylation in a GSK-3β-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, β-catenin knockdown exerted similar effects on cell proliferation and invasion as seen in Se-PFPs-treated cells, while β-catenin overexpression neutralized the inhibitory effects of Se-PFPs on cell proliferation and invasion. Take together,Se-PFPs exert antitumor activity through inhibiting cell proliferation, migration, invasion and EMT, and inducing cell apoptosis. These effects are achieved by the inhibition of β-catenin signaling. Thus Se-PFPs can be used as potential therapeutic agents in the prevention and treatment of ovarian cancer.
Keywords: GSK-3β; antitumor activity; ovarian cancer; selenium-enriched polysaccharides; β-catenin.