Chemotherapy is the main approach for treating advanced and recurrent carcinoma, but the clinical performance of chemotherapy is limited by relatively low response rates, drug resistance, and adverse effects that severely affect the quality of life of patients. An association between epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and chemotherapy resistance has been investigated in recent studies. Our recent studies have found that the aqueous extract of Solanum nigrum (AESN) is a crucial ingredient in some traditional Chinese medicine formulas for treating various types of cancer patients and exhibits antitumor effects. We evaluated the suppression of EMT in MCF-7 breast cancer cells treated with AESN. The mitochondrial morphology was investigated using Mitotracker Deep-Red FM stain. Our results indicated that AESN markedly inhibited cell viability of MCF-7 breast cancer cells through apoptosis induction and cell cycle arrest mediated by activation of caspase-3 and production of reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, mitochondrial fission was observed in MCF-7 breast cancer cells treated with AESN. In addition to elevation of E-cadherin, downregulations of ZEB1, N-cadherin, and vimentin were found in AESN-treated MCF-7 breast cancer cells. These results suggested that AESN could inhibit EMT of MCF-7 breast cancer cells mediated by attenuation of mitochondrial function. AESN could be potentially beneficial in treating breast cancer cells, and may be of interest for future studies in developing integrative cancer therapy against proliferation, metastasis, and migration of breast cancer cells.
Keywords: MCF-7 breast cancer cells; apoptosis; aqueous extracts of Solanum nigrum (AESN); epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT); mitochondrial fission.