Plumbagin Induces Cytotoxicity via Loss of Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and Caspase Activation in Metastatic Retinoblastoma

Anticancer Res. 2021 Oct;41(10):4725-4732. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.15287.


Background/aim: We investigated the cytotoxic effects of plumbagin on metastatic retinoblastoma, using the highly metastatic cell line Y79.

Materials and methods: Effect of plumbagin on cell growth was assessed with water-soluble tetrazolium 1 (WST-1) cell proliferation assay and automated hemocytometry with trypan blue-exclusion assay. Cell death was studied with acridine orange/ethidium bromide live-dead assay and annexin-V-fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide microscopy. Loss of mitochondrial membrane potential was studied with JC-10 dye and caspase activation was investigated using CellEvent Caspase-3/7 Green detection reagent.

Results: Plumbagin highly significantly reduced the growth of Y79 cells treated for 24 h with 2.5 μM or more. Plumbagin also induced significantly high levels of cell death which was associated with loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and caspase activation.

Conclusion: At very low concentration (2.5 μM), plumbagin potently induced cytotoxicity in metastatic retinoblastoma cells via loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and caspase activation.

Keywords: Metastatic retinoblastoma; Y79; cancer; plumbagin.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria
  • Naphthoquinones / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Retinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Retinoblastoma / pathology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Naphthoquinones
  • Caspases
  • plumbagin