“Shikonin, a natural naphthoquinone, was used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of different inflammatory diseases and recent studies revealed the anticancer activities of shikonin. We found that shikonin has strong cytotoxic effects on 15 cancer cell lines, including multidrug-resistant cell lines. Transcriptome-wide mRNA expression studies showed that shikonin induced genetic pathways regulating cell cycle, mitochondrial function, levels of reactive oxygen species, and cytoskeletal formation. Taking advantage of the inherent fluorescence of shikonin, we analyzed its uptake and distribution in live cells with high spatial and temporal resolution using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Shikonin was specifically accumulated in the mitochondria, and this accumulation was associated with a shikonin-dependent deregulation of cellular Ca2+ and ROS levels. This deregulation led to a breakdown of the mitochondrial membrane potential, dysfunction of microtubules, cell-cycle arrest, and ultimately induction of apoptosis. Seeing as both the metabolism and the structure of mitochondria show marked differences between cancer cells and normal cells, shikonin is a promising candidate for the next generation of chemotherapy”.
“Mitochondria are emerging as idealized targets for anti-cancer drugs. One reason for this is that although these organelles are inherent to all cells, drugs are being developed that selectively target the mitochondria of malignant cells without adversely affecting those of normal cells. Such anticancer drugs destabilize cancer cell mitochondria and these compounds are referred to as mitocans, classified into several groups according to their mode of action and the location or nature of their specific drug targets. Many mitocans selectively interfere with the bioenergetic functions of cancer cell mitochondria, causing major disruptions often associated with ensuing overloads in ROS production leading to the induction of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. This in-depth review describes the bases for the bioenergetic differences found between normal and cancer cell mitochondria, focusing on those essential changes occurring during malignancy that clinically may provide the most effective targets for mitocan development. A common theme emerging is that mitochondrially mediated ROS activation as a trigger for apoptosis offers a powerful basis for cancer therapy. Continued research in this area is likely to identify increasing numbers of novel agents that should prove highly effective against a variety of cancers with preferential toxicity towards malignant tissue, circumventing tumor resistance to the other more established therapeutic anti-cancer approaches”. Follow the links:
“Inhibition of mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) by dichloroacetate may be exploited to reverse the abnormal metabolism of cancer cells from glycolysis to glucose oxidation. As PDK negatively regulates pyruvate dehydrogenase, dichloroacetate indirectly stimulates the pyruvate to acetyl-CoA conversion. Dichloroacetate has been shown to downregulate the aberrantly high mitochondrial membrane potential of cancer cells, increase mitochondrial ROS generation and activate K+ channels in malignant, but not in normal cells143. Dichloroacetate also upregulated the expression of the K+ channel Kv1.5, which is often underexpressed by tumour cells, through the transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT1). Dichloroacetatenormalized mitochondrial functions were accompanied by reduced proliferation, increased apoptosis and suppressed tumour growth without apparent toxicity, suggesting that the mitochondria–NFAT–Kv axis and PDK represent promising anticancer drug targets”.
Time for another natural anti-cancer compound that works in a manner similar to gossypol; it up-regulates the pro-apoptotic BH3 protein Noxa. It comes from St. John’s Wort.
“We previously reported that hyperforin, a phloroglucinol purified from Hypericum perforatum, induces the mitochondrial pathway of caspase-dependent apoptosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells ex vivo, and that this effect is associated with upregulation of Noxa, a BH3-only protein of the Bcl-2 family. Here, we investigated the role of this upregulation in the pro-apoptotic activity of hyperforin in the cells of CLL patients and MEC-1 cell line. We found that the increase in Noxa expression is a time- and concentration-dependent effect of hyperforin occurring without change in Noxa mRNA levels. A post-translational regulation is suggested by the capacity of hyperforin to inhibit proteasome activity in CLL cells. Noxa silencing by siRNA reduces partially hyperforin-elicited apoptosis. Furthermore, treatment with hyperforin, which has no effect on the expression of the prosurvival protein Mcl-1, induces the interaction of Noxa with Mcl-1 and the dissociation of Mcl-1/Bak complex, revealing that upregulated Noxa displaces the proapoptotic protein Bak from Mcl-1. This effect is accompanied with Bak activation, known to allow the release of apoptogenic factors from mitochondria. Our data indicate that Noxa upregulation is one of the mechanisms by which hyperforin triggers CLL cell apoptosis. They also favor that new agents capable of mimicking specifically the BH3-only protein Noxa should be developed for apoptosis-based therapeutic strategy in CLL”.
Once again we have natural compounds that have strong anti-cancer activity and effect multiple pathways. There’s quite a bit of overlap between these two, but also some antagonism as well, so if you decide to supplement these pay attention to the required dosing schedule.
“Constitutively activated pathways contribute to apoptosis resistance in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Little is known about the metabolism of lipids and function of lipases in CLL cells. Performing gene expression profiling including B-cell receptor (BCR) stimulation of CLL cells in comparison to healthy donor CD5+ B cells, we found significant overexpression of lipases and phospholipases in CLL cells. In addition, we observed that the recently defined prognostic factor lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is induced by stimulation of BCR in CLL cells but not in CD5+ normal B cells. CLL cellular lysates exhibited significantly higher lipase activity compared to healthy donor controls. Incubation of primary CLL cells (n=26) with the lipase inhibitor orlistat resulted in induction of apoptosis, with a half-maximal dose (IC50) of 2.35 mum. In healthy B cells a significantly higher mean IC50 of 148.5 mum of orlistat was observed, while no apoptosis was induced in healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs; P<0.001). Orlistat-mediated cytotoxicity was decreased by BCR stimulation. Finally, the cytotoxic effects of orlistat on primary CLL cells were enhanced by the simultaneous incubation with fludarabine (P=0.003). In summary, alterations of lipid metabolism are involved in CLL pathogenesis and might represent a novel therapeutic target in CLL”. Follow the link: Targeting lipid metabolism by the lipoprotein lipase inhibitor orlistat results in apoptosis of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells
Watercress has it. So does cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Phenethyl Isothiocyanate (PEITC) is another powerful, natural anti-cancer compound. It works by manipulating redox status in the cell. Follow the links for some of the research on this powerful glutathione inhibitor.