Researchers at Kyung Hee University in South Korea investigated the apoptotic and autophagy-inducing effect of Scutellaria radix (SR) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Their findings were published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.
The root of Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap) is an herb traditionally used in Asian countries to treat inflammatory diseases.
Studies show that SR exhibits anti-cancer activities against various types of tumors.
The researchers reported that SR treatment suppressed the viability of two NSCLC cell lines, namely, H358 and H2087 cells.
Western blot assays showed that SR increased the expression of key factors of apoptosis, such as Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), cleaved-caspase 3 and cleaved-Poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP).
On the other hand, co-treatment with the caspase inhibitor Z-VAD negated the anti-proliferative effect of SR, suggesting that induction of apoptosis is part of SR's mechanism of action.
Further experiments also revealed that autophagy is also involved in SR's mode of action.
SR treatment caused an increase in the ratio of microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3)-II/LC3-I in NSCLC cells, and co-treatment with chloroquinone further increased this ratio. This suggested that SR treatment induces autophagy in NSCLC cells.
In contrast, co-treatment with 3-Methyladenine (3-MA) led to the loss of autophagy and the suppression of apoptosis.
Based on these results, the researchers concluded that the root of S. baicalensis induces apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer via AMPK-dependent autophagy, making it a potential anti-cancer agent against NSCLC.
Kim HI, Hong SH, Ku JM, Lim YS, Lee SJ, Song J, Kim TY, Cheon C, Ko S-G. SCUTELLARIA RADIX PROMOTES APOPTOSIS IN NON-SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER CELLS VIA INDUCTION OF AMPK-DEPENDENT AUTOPHAGY. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2019;47(03):691–705. DOI: 10.1142/s0192415x19500368