Macranthoside B (MB), a saponin compound in Lonicera macranthoides, can block cell proliferation and induce cell death in several types of cancer cells; however, the precise mechanisms by which MB exerts its anticancer effects remain poorly understood. MB blocked A2780 human ovarian carcinoma cell proliferation both dose- and time-dependently. MB induced apoptosis, with increased poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and caspase-3/9 cleavage. MB also caused autophagy in A2780 cells, with light chain 3 (LC3)-II elevation. Inhibiting MB-induced autophagy with the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA) significantly decreased apoptosis, with a reduction of growth inhibition; inhibiting MB-induced apoptosis with the pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK did not decrease autophagy but elevated LC3-II levels, indicating that MB-induced autophagy is cytotoxic and may be upstream of apoptosis. Furthermore, MB increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, with activated 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), decreased mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and P70S6 kinase phosphorylation, and increased PARP and caspase-3/9 cleavage, and LC3-II elevation; treatment with the ROS scavenger N-acetyl cysteine and the AMPK inhibitor Compound C diminished this effect. Therefore, the ROS/AMPK/mTOR pathway mediates the effect of MB on induction of apoptosis via autophagy in human ovarian carcinoma cells.
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