Autophagy inhibition enhances anticancer efficacy of artepillin C, a cinnamic acid derivative in Brazilian green propolis

Satoshi Endo, Manami Hoshi, Toshiyuki Matsunaga, Takahiro Inoue, Kenji Ichihara, Akira Ikari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Propolis, a resinous substance produced by honeybees, possesses various biological actions including anticancer activity towards tumor cells. Recently, the ethanol extract of Brazilian green propolis has been shown to induce autophagy, which is known to be induced in treatment of cancer cells with anticancer drugs, leading to cancer cell survival and decreased sensitivity to anticancer agents. In this study, we aimed to identify autophagy-inducing components of the propolis and elucidated the reciprocal relationship between anticancer cytotoxicity and protective autophagy in prostate cancer CWR22Rv1 cells. Among eight cinnamic acid derivatives [chlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, 3,4-caffeoylquinic acid, artepillin C (ArtC), baccharin, drupanin and caffeic acid phenethyl ester] in propolis, only ArtC showed high autophagy-inducing activity accompanying LC3-II upregulation. ArtC was also induced apoptosis as revealed by DNA fragmentation and increases in cleaved caspase-3 and poly ADP-ribose polymerase. The apoptosis induced by ArtC was exacerbated by cotreatment with autophagy inhibitors (chloroquine, wortmannin and U0126). The cotreatment further induced necroptosis accompanying increased expression of receptor-interacting serine/threonine protein kinases 1 and 3. These data indicate that cytotoxicity of ArtC to the prostate cancer cells is dampened by induced autophagy, but is markedly augmented by inhibition of autophagy. Therefore, the combination of ArtC and autophagy inhibitors may be a novel complementary-alternative treatment for prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-443
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 26
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Artepillin C
  • Autophagy
  • Necroptosis
  • Propolis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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