The aim of the current study was to investigate the anticancer potential of arctigenin, a natural lignan compound, in malignant gliomas. The U87MG and T98G human glioma cell lines were treated with various concentrations of arctigenin for 48 h and the effects of arctigenin on the aggressive phenotypes of glioma cells were assessed. The results demonstrated that arctigenin dose-dependently inhibited the growth of U87MG and T98G cells, as determined using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation assays. Arctigenin exposure also induced a 60-75% reduction in colony formation compared with vehicle-treated control cells. However, arctigenin was not observed to affect the invasiveness of glioma cells. Arctigenin significantly increased the proportion of cells in the G0/G1 phase and reduced the number of cells in the S phase, as compared with the control group (P<0.05). Western blot analysis demonstrated that arctigenin increased the expression levels of p21, retinoblastoma and p53 proteins, and significantly decreased the expression levels of cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 proteins. Additionally, arctigenin was able to induce apoptosis in glioma cells, coupled with increased expression levels of cleaved caspase-3 and the pro-apoptotic BCL2-associated X protein. Furthermore, arctigenin-induced apoptosis was significantly suppressed by the pretreatment of cells with Z-DEVD-FMK, a caspase-3 inhibitor. In conclusion, the results suggest that arctigenin is able to inhibit cell proliferation and may induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest at the G0/G1 phase in glioma cells. These results warrant further investigation of the anticancer effects of arctigenin in animal models of gliomas.
Keywords: apoptosis; arctigenin; cell cycle arrest; glioma cells; proliferation.