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Chamaejasmine induces apoptosis in HeLa cells through the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway

Qian, Sumin; Li, Meng

doi: 10.1097/CAD.0000000000000424

Chamaejasmine is one of the major bioactive components of Stellera chamaejasme L, which is a Chinese traditional herbal medicine that has been used widely in the treatment of cancer. The aim of this study is to investigate the potential effect of chamaejasmine on cervical cancer cells and elucidate the underlying mechanisms of action. We first examined the antitumor activity of chamaejasmine both in vitro and in vivo. In the following experiments with HeLa cells, cell apoptosis and ultrastructure changes were assessed by flow cytometry and transmission electron microscopy, respectively. The effects of chamaejasmine on reactive oxygen species production and mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) were examined using 2′,7′-dichlorohydrofluorescein and rhodamine-123 staining. The mRNA and protein levels of apoptosis-related proteins were detected by real-time PCR and western blot. The activity of caspases 3, 8, and 9 was measured using the corresponding assay kit. The effect of chamaejasmine on the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway was evaluated by luciferase assay and western blot, and further confirmed in Akt overexpressing HeLa cells. We found that chamaejasmine has potent antitumor effects on cervical cancer cell lines both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistic studies showed that chamaejasmine could induce apoptosis in HeLa cells, and this apoptosis-inducing effect may be mediated through the suppression of PI3K/Akt signaling cascades. These findings not only indicate the therapeutic potential of chamaejasmine for cervical cancer, but provide valuable insight into its mechanism of action.

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aSecond Department of Gynecology

bFifth Department of Neurology, Cangzhou Central Hospital, Cangzhou, Hebei Province, China

Correspondence to Sumin Qian, MD, Second Department of Gynecology, Cangzhou Central Hospital, No. 16 Xinhua Western Road, Cangzhou 061000, Hebei Province, China Tel: +86 317 207 5013; e-mail:

Received March 23, 2016

Accepted July 24, 2016

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