Terpinen-4-ol Induces Apoptosis in Human Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer In Vitro and In Vivo

Wu CS, Chen YJ, Chen JJ, Shieh JJ, Huang CH, Lin PS, Chang GC, Chang JT, Lin CC
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012


Terpinen-4-ol, a monoterpene component of the essential oils of several aromatic plants, exhibits antitumor effects. In this study, the antitumor effects of terpinen-4-ol and the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for it were evaluated and studied, respectively on human nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Our results indicated that terpinen-4-ol elicited a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect, as determined by MTT assay. Increased sub-G1 population and annexin-V binding, activation of caspases 9 and 3, cleavage of poly(ADPribose) polymerase (PARP), and a decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) indicated involvement of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in terpinen-4-ol-treated A549 and CL1-0 cells. Elevation of the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and a decrease in IAP family proteins XIAP and survivin were also observed following terpinen-4-ol treatment. Notably, terpinen-4-ol was able to increase p53 levels in A549 and CL1-0 cells. Diminution of p53 by RNA interference induced necrosis instead of apoptosis in A549 cells following terpinen-4-ol treatment, indicating that terpinen-4-ol-elicited apoptosis is p53-dependent. Moreover, intratumoral administration of terpinen-4-ol significantly suppressed the growth of s.c. A549 xenografts by inducing apoptosis, as confirmed by TUNEL assay. Collectively, these data provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying terpinen-4-ol-induced apoptosis in NSCLC cells, rendering this compound a potential anticancer drug for NSCLC.


Wu CS, Chen YJ, Chen JJ, et al. Terpinen-4-ol Induces Apoptosis in Human Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer In Vitro and In Vivo. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:818261(1-13).

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