Abstract Title:

Berberine induces neuronal differentiation through inhibition of cancer stemness and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in neuroblastoma cells.

Abstract Source:

Phytomedicine. 2016 Jun 15 ;23(7):736-44. Epub 2016 Apr 13. PMID: 27235712

Abstract Author(s):

C R Naveen, Sagar Gaikwad, Reena Agrawal-Rajput

Article Affiliation:

C R Naveen


BACKGROUND: Berberine, a plant alkaloid, has been used since many years for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. It also shows promising medicinal use against metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer; however its efficacy in neuroblastoma (NB) is poorly explored.

HYPOTHESIS: EMT is important in cancer stemness and metastasis resulting in failure to differentiate; thus targeting EMT and related pathways can have clinical benefits.

STUDY DESIGN: Potential of berberine was investigated for (i) neuronal differentiation and cancer stemness inhibition, (ii) underlying molecular mechanisms regulating cancer-stemness and (iii) EMT reversal.

METHODS: Using neuro2a (N2a) neuroblastoma cells (NB); we investigated effect of berberine on neuronal differentiation, cancer-stemness, EMT and underlying signalling by immunofluorescence, RT-PCR, Western blot. High glucose-induced TGF-β mediated EMT model was used to test EMT reversal potential by Western blot and RT-PCR. STRING analysis was done to determine and validate functional protein-interaction networks.

RESULTS: We demonstrate berberine induces neuronal differentiation accompanying increased neuronal differentiation markers like MAP2,β-III tubulin and NCAM; generated neurons were viable. Berberine attenuated cancer stemness markers CD133, β-catenin, n-myc, sox2, notch2 and nestin. Berberine potentiated G0/G1 cell cycle arrest by inhibiting proliferation, cyclin dependent kinases and cyclins resulting in apoptosis through increased bax/bcl-2 ratio. Restoration of tumor suppressor proteins, p27 and p53, indicate promising anti-cancer property. The induction of NCAM and reduction in its polysialylation indicates anti-migratory potential which is supported by down regulation of MMP-2/9. It increased epithelial marker lamininand smad and increased Hsp70 levels also suggest its protective role. Molecular insights revealed that berberine regulates EMT via downregulation of PI3/Akt and Ras-Raf-ERK signalling and subsequent upregulation of p38-MAPK. TGF-β secretion from N2a cells was potentiated by high glucose and negatively regulated by berberine through modulation of TGF-β receptors II and III. Berberine reverted mesenchymal markers, vimentin and fibronectin, with restoration of epithelial marker E-cadherin, highlighting the role of berberine in reversal of EMT.

CONCLUSION: Collectively, the study demonstrates prospective use of berberine against neuroblastoma as elucidated through inhibition of fundamental characteristics of cancer stem cells: tumorigenicity and failure to differentiation and instigates reversal in the EMT.

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