Biochemical and computational evaluation of Triptolide-induced cytotoxicity against NSCLC

Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jul;103:1557-1566. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.04.198. Epub 2018 May 7.


Triptolide is the major bioactive component isolated from the Chinese Medicinal plant Tripterygium wilfordii. Despite the growing interest and the plethora of reports discussing the pharmacological activity of this diterpenoid, no clear consensus regarding its cellular targets and full mechanism of action has been reached. In the present work, a combined in vitro and in silico approach was used to evaluate the biological activity of Triptolide on Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In vitro, Triptolide treatment induced apoptosis in NSCLC cell lines and down-regulated the phosphorylation of AKT, mTOR, and p70S6K. Triptolide also impacted cellular glycolysis as well as the antioxidant response through the impairment of glucose utilization, HKII, glutathione, and NRF2 levels. Molecular docking results examined the possible interactions between Triptolide and AKT and predicted an allosteric binding to AKT-1 structure. Molecular dynamics simulations were further used to evaluate the stability of the complex formed by Triptolide's best conformer and AKT. These findings provide an insightful approach to the anticancer effect of Triptolide against NSCLC and highlight a possible new role for AKT/mTOR HKII inhibition.

Keywords: AKT; Molecular docking; Non-small cell lung cancer; Triptolide.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Diterpenes / chemistry
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Epoxy Compounds / chemistry
  • Epoxy Compounds / pharmacology
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Phenanthrenes / chemistry
  • Phenanthrenes / pharmacology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Diterpenes
  • Epoxy Compounds
  • Phenanthrenes
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • triptolide
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • Glutathione