Carnosic acid enhances the anti-lung cancer effect of cisplatin by inhibiting myeloid-derived suppressor cells

Chin J Nat Med. 2018 Dec;16(12):907-915. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(18)30132-8.


Cisplatin and other platinum-based drugs are used frequently for treatment of lung cancer. However, their clinical performance are usually limited by drug resistance or toxic effects. Carnosic acid, a polyphenolic diterpene isolated from Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), has been reported to have several pharmacological and biological activities. In the present study, the combination effect of cisplatin plus carnosic acid on mouse LLC (Lewis lung cancer) xenografts and possible underlying mechanism of action were examined. LLC-bearing mice were treated with intraperitoneal injection with cisplatin, oral gavage with carnosic acid, or combination with cisplatin and carnosic acid, respectively. Combination of carnosic acid and cisplatin yielded significantly better anti-growth and pro-apoptotic effects on LLC xenografts than drugs alone. Mechanistic study showed that carnosic acid treatment boosted the function of CD8+ T cells as evidenced by higher IFN-γ secretion and higher expression of FasL, perforin as well as granzyme B. In the meantime, the proportion of MDSC (myeloid-derived suppressor cells) in tumor tissues were reduced by carnosic acid treatment and the mRNA levels of iNOS2, Arg-1, and MMP9, which are the functional markers for MDSC, were reduced. In conclusion, our study proved that the functional suppression of MDSC by carnosic acid promoted the lethality of CD8+ T cells, which contributed to the enhancement of anti-lung cancer effect of cisplatin.

Keywords: CD8(+) T cell; Carnosic acid; Cisplatin; Lung cancer; MDSC.

MeSH terms

  • Abietanes / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / immunology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / drug effects*
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / immunology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry*


  • Abietanes
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • Mmp9 protein, mouse
  • salvin
  • Cisplatin