Euphorbia fischeriana Steud, a traditional Chinese medicine, has been shown to inhibit the growth of various cancers by the induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association between the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) signaling pathway and the inhibitory effect of Euphorbia fischeriana Steud on the growth and metastasis of melanoma B16 cells in vitro, and the underlying mechanisms. MTT assay results indicated that Euphorbia fischeriana Steud inhibited the growth of B16 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that Euphorbia fischeriana Steud markedly induced apoptosis of the B16 cells, with arrest at the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. In addition, in a Transwell assay Euphorbia fischeriana Steud significantly suppressed the migration of B16 cells. Western blot analysis revealed that the expression levels of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) were upregulated, and the phosphorylation of Akt was downregulated, which resulted in inhibition of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and the eventual suppression of its downstream targets, such as matrix metalloproteinase-2 mRNA, in B16 cells. The results demonstrated that Euphorbia fischeriana Steud inhibited the growth and migration of B16 cells, possibly via modulation of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and upregulation of PTEN expression levels, in addition to downregulation of p-Akt expression. The aforementioned findings suggest that Euphorbia fischeriana Steud may have broad therapeutic applications in the treatment of malignant melanoma.
Keywords: Euphorbia fischeriana Steud; PI3K/Akt signaling pathway; malignant melanoma; traditional Chinese medicine.