Rujifang inhibits triple-negative breast cancer growth via the PI3K/AKT pathway

J Ethnopharmacol. 2024 Mar 9:118011. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2024.118011. Online ahead of print.


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Rujifang (RJF) constitutes a traditional Chinese medicinal compound extensively employed in the management of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, information regarding its potential active ingredients, antitumor effects, safety, and mechanism of action remains unreported.

AIM OF THE STUDY: To investigate the efficacy and safety of RJF in the context of TNBC.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We employed the ultra high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray four-pole time-of-flight mass spectrometry technique (UPLC/Q-TOF-MS/MS) to scrutinize the chemical constituents of RJF. Subcutaneously transplanted tumor models were utilized to assess the impact of RJF on TNBC in vivo. Thirty female BLAB/c mice were randomly divided into five groups: the model group, cyclophosphamide group, and RJF high-dose, medium-dose, and low-dose groups. A total of 1 × 106 4T1 cells were subcutaneously injected into the right shoulder of mice, and they were administered treatments for a span of 28 days. We conducted evaluations on blood parameters, encompassing white blood cell count (WBC), red blood cell count (RBC), hemoglobin (HGB), platelet count (PLT), neutrophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes, as well as hepatorenal indicators including alkaline phosphatase (ALP), glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT), glutamate pyruvate transaminase (GPT), albumin, and creatinine (CRE) to gauge the safety of RJF. Ki67 and TUNEL were detected via immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence, respectively. We prepared RJF drug-containing serum for TNBC cell lines and assessed the in vitro inhibitory effect of RJF on tumor cell growth through the CCK8 assay and cell cycle analysis. RT-PCR was employed to detect the mRNA expression of cyclin-dependent kinase and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors in tumor tissues, and Western blot was carried out to ascertain the expression of cyclin and pathway-related proteins.

RESULTS: 100 compounds were identified in RJF, which consisted of 3 flavonoids, 24 glycosides, 18 alkaloids, 3 amino acids, 8 phenylpropanoids, 6 terpenes, 20 organic acids, and 18 other compounds. In animal experiments, both CTX and RJF exhibited substantial antitumor effects. RJF led to an increase in the number of neutrophils in peripheral blood, with no significant impact on other hematological indices. In contrast, CTX reduced red blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, and white blood cell count, while increasing platelet count. RJF exhibited no discernible influence on hepatorenal function, whereas Cyclophosphamide (CTX) decreased ALP, GOT, and GPT levels. Both CTX and RJF reduced the expression of Ki67 and heightened the occurrence of apoptosis in tumor tissue. RJF drug-containing serum hindered the viability of 4T1 and MD-MBA-231 cells in a time and concentration-dependent manner. In cell cycle experiments, RJF diminished the proportion of G2 phase cells and arrested the cell cycle at the S phase. RT-PCR analysis indicated that RJF down-regulated the mRNA expression of CDK2 and CDK4, while up-regulating that of P21 and P27 in tumor tissue. The trends in CDKs and CDKIs protein expression mirrored those of mRNA expression. Moreover, the PI3K/AKT pathway displayed downregulation in the tumor tissue of mice treated with RJF.

CONCLUSION: RJF demonstrates effectiveness and safety in the context of TNBC. It exerts anti-tumor effects by arresting the cell cycle at the S phase through the PI3K-AKT pathway.

PMID:38467320 | DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2024.118011