Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT and mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascades have significant roles in cell proliferation, survival, angiogenesis and metastasis of tumor cells. Eupatilin, one of the major compounds present in Artemisia species, has been demonstrated to have antitumor properties. However, the effect of eupatilin in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) remains to be elucidated. Therefore, the present study investigated the biological effects and mechanisms of eupatilin in RCC cell apoptosis. The results of the present study demonstrated that eupatilin significantly induced cell apoptosis and enhanced the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in 786-O cells. In addition, eupatilin induced phosphorylation of p38α (Thr180/Tyr182), extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1/2 (Thr183/Tyr185), and decreased the phosphorylation of PI3K and AKT in 786-O cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Furthermore, the ROS inhibitor N-acetyl-L-cysteine was able to rescue the MAPK activation and PI3K/AKT inhibition induced by eupatilin. Taken together, the results of the present study provide evidence that inhibition of eupatilin induces apoptosis in human RCC via ROS-mediated activation of the MAPK signaling pathway and inhibition of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. Thus, eupatilin may serve as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of human RCC.
Keywords: apoptosis; eupatilin; reactive oxygen species; renal cell carcinoma.