Aim: To investigate the effects of punicalagin, a polyphenol isolated from Punica granatum, on human U87MG glioma cells in vitro. Methods: The viability of human U87MG glioma cells was evaluated using MTT assay. Cell cycle was detected with flow cytometry analysis. The levels of Bcl-2, cleaved caspase-9, cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), phosphor-AMPK and phosphor-p27 at Thr198 were measured using immunoblot analyses. Caspase-3 activity was determined with spectrophotometer. To determine autophagy, LC3 cleavage and punctate patterns were examined. Results: Punicalagin (1-30 μg/mL) dose-dependently inhibited the cell viability in association with increased cyclin E level and decreased cyclin B and cyclin A levels. The treatment also induced apoptosis as shown by the cleavage of PARP, activation of caspase-9, and increase of caspase-3 activity in the cells. However, pretreatment of the cells with the pan-caspase inhibitor z-DEVD-fmk (50 μmol/L) did not completely prevent the cell death. On the other hand, punicalagin treatment increased LC3-II cleavage and caused GFP-LC3-II-stained punctate pattern in the cells. Suppressing autophagy of cells with chloroquine (1-10 μmol/L) dose-dependently alleviated the cell death caused by punicalagin. Punicalagin (1-30 μg/mL) also increased the levels phosphor-AMPK and phosphor-p27 at Thr198 in the cells, which were correlated with the induction of autophagic cell death. Conclusion: Punicalagin induces human U87MG glioma cell death through both apoptotic and autophagic pathways.
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