Triptonide acts as a novel potent anti-lymphoma agent with low toxicity mainly through inhibition of proto-oncogene Lyn transcription and suppression of Lyn signal pathway

Toxicol Lett. 2017 Aug 15;278:9-17. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.06.010. Epub 2017 Jun 27.


Lyn is a proto-oncogene overexpressed and constitutively activated in lymphoma, and plays an important role in lymphoma initiation and malignant progression. Hence, the oncogenic Lyn has recently been targeted for novel anti-lymphoma drug discovery; however, the effective Lyn-targeted drug for lymphoma treatment with low toxicity is absent in the clinical setting. The goal of this study is to explore powerful and low toxic Lyn-targeted anti-lymphoma agent. Here we show that triptonide, a small molecule purified from the herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, potently inhibits the proliferation of human B-lymphoma Raji and T-lymphoma Jurkat cells with IC50 of 5.7nM and 4.8nM, respectively. Strikingly, triptonide at a dose of 5mg/kg/day almost completely inhibited the lymphoma growth in human lymphoma cells-xenografted mice without obvious side effects, particularly; the tumors in 6 mice among the 8 xenografted mice were completely eradicated in vivo. Cell biological studies showed that triptonide at the doses of 2.5-10nM notably suppressed B-lymphoma cell colony-forming capability, and that triptonide at the dose of 20nM promoted apoptosis through activation of PARP and caspase 3, but reduction of BCL2 protein levels in the lymphoma cells. Molecular studies revealed that triptonide markedly inhibited oncogenic Lyn transcription through suppressing the promoter activity of the gene, and that it remarkably reduced both total and phosphorylated Lyn proteins, and diminished Lyn downstream ERK and ATK signal pathways. Additionally, triptonide significantly enhanced p38 phosphorylation. Together, triptonide exerts potent anti-lymphoma effect with low toxicity mainly through inhibition of proto-oncogene Lyn transcription and suppression of Lyn downstream ERK and ATK signal pathways, providing an attractive drug candidate for development of novel anti-lymphoma therapeutics.

Keywords: Anti-cancer; ERK; Lymphoma; Lyn; Triptonide.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Down-Regulation
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma / enzymology
  • Lymphoma / genetics
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • src-Family Kinases / genetics
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Triterpenes
  • triptonide
  • lyn protein-tyrosine kinase
  • src-Family Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases