Paris Polyphylla-Derived Saponins Inhibit Growth of Bladder Cancer Cells by Inducing Mutant P53 Degradation While Up-Regulating CDKN1A Expression

Curr Urol. 2018 Mar;11(3):131-138. doi: 10.1159/000447207. Epub 2018 Feb 20.


Objectives: Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis (PPVY), a Chinese herb, has long been used for cancer treatment, and its steroidal saponins are suggested to exert an anti-tumor activity, however, the underlying mechanism is incompletely understood and their effect on bladder cancer (BC) remains unknown. The present study is thus designed to address these issues.

Material and methods: Total steroidal saponins were extracted with ethanol from PPVY and used to treat BC cells (HT1197 and J82 carrying mutant p53). Gene expression was determined using qPCR and immunoblotting and cell cycle analyzed using flow cytometry. DNA damage response activation was assessed using immunofluorescence staining.

Results: PPVY saponins treatment led to dose-dependent declines in the number of both HT1197 and J82 cells with IC50 approximately 1.2 μg/ml, which was coupled with strong growth arrest at G2/M phase and the activation of DNA damage response pathway. Moreover, the clonogenic potential of these cells was severely impaired even in the presence of low concentrations of PPVY saponins. Mechanistically, PPVY saponins induced the degradation of mutant p53 while stimulated CDKN1A gene transcription. Phosphorylated AKT was diminished in PPVY saponin-treated cells, but its specific inhibitor LY294002 exhibited significantly weaker efficacy in inducing CDKN1A expression than did PPVY saponins.

Conclusion: PPVY saponins activate DNA damage response pathway, degrade mutant p53 and stimulate CDKN1A expression, thereby inhibiting BC cell growth. Given their poor absorption via oral administration, PPVY saponins may be applicable for intravesical instillations in BC treatment.

Keywords: Bladder cancer; CDKN1A; Cancer treatment; Paris polyphylla.