Paeoniflorin Inhibits Migration and Invasion of Human Glioblastoma Cells via Suppression Transforming Growth Factor β-Induced Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition

Neurochem Res. 2018 Mar;43(3):760-774. doi: 10.1007/s11064-018-2478-y. Epub 2018 Feb 8.


Paeoniflorin (PF) is a polyphenolic compound derived from Radix Paeoniae Alba thathas anti-cancer activities in a variety of human malignancies including glioblastoma. However, the underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), characterized as losing cell polarity, plays an essential role in tumor invasion and metastasis. TGFβ, a key member of transforming growth factors, has been demonstrated to contribute to glioblastoma aggressiveness through inducing EMT. Therefore, the present studies aim to investigate whether PF suppresses the expression of TGFβ and inhibits EMT that plays an important role in anti-glioblastoma. We found that PF dose-dependently downregulates the expression of TGFβ, enhances apoptosis, reduces cell proliferation, migration and invasion in three human glioblastoma cell lines (U87, U251, T98G). These effects are enhanced in TGFβ siRNA treated cells and abolished in cells transfected with TGFβ lentiviruses. In addition, other EMT markers such as snail, vimentin and N-cadherin were suppressed by PF in these cell lines and in BALB/c nude mice injected with U87 cells. The expression of MMP2/9, EMT markers, are also dose-dependently reduced in PF treated cells and in U87 xenograft mouse model. Moreover, the tumor sizes are reduced by PF treatment while there is no change in body weight. These results indicate that PF is a potential novel drug target for the treatment of glioblastoma by suppression of TGFβ signaling pathway and inhibition of EMT.

Keywords: EMT; Glioblastoma; Migration and invasion; Paeoniflorin; TGFβ.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism
  • Glucosides / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mice, Nude
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / drug effects*


  • Glucosides
  • Monoterpenes
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • peoniflorin