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Berberine induces dose-dependent quiescence and apoptosis in A549 cancer cells by modulating cell cyclins and inflammation independent of mTOR pathway

Kumar, R.; Awasthi, M.; Sharma, A.; Padwad, Y.; Sharma, R.

Life Sciences 244: 117346

2020


ISSN/ISBN: 1879-0631
PMID: 31978448
DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117346
Accession: 069746538

Emerging studies have shown that application of low concentration of bioactive phytomolecules can confer anti-proliferative effects on tumour cells by inducing senescence pathways. The alkaloid berberine is recognized for its anti-cancer attributes but its potential to induce senescence in tumour cells is least understood. The present work assessed the mechanisms pertaining to dose-dependent anti-proliferative effects of berberine in the perspective of senescence and inflammation using human non-small cell lung cancer cell line (A549). Amongst the different tested bioactive phytomolecules, berberine treatment suppressed the proliferation of A549 cells regardless of the concentration applied. Application of low doses of berberine induced a weak SA-β-gal activity and p21WAF1 expression but did not show evidence of SASP activation due to absence of NF-κB activation and expression of proinflammatory genes. However, treatment with higher dose of berberine showed no evidence of SA-β-gal activity or p21WAF1 expression, but instead induced apoptosis and suppressed the expression of cell cyclins. The proliferative capacity of berberine treated cells was at par with control cells and no SA-β-gal activity could be observed in first generation of berberine treated cells. mTOR pathway showed no distinct activation on account of berberine treatment thereby further emphasizing that low dose of berberine induced quiescence and not senescence in A549 cells. Taken together, our observations indicate that despite its strong anti-proliferative effects, low dose berberine treatment may only induce transient changes akin to quiescence that needs to be considered before implying pro-senescence attributes of berberine in cancer therapeutics.

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