Casearin X exhibits cytotoxic effects in leukemia cells triggered by apoptosis
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Clerodane diterpenes have demonstrated cytotoxic, antiplasmodial and anti-ulcer properties. In the present work, we determined the cytotoxic effect of casearin L (Cas L), O (Cas O) and X (Cas X) and (-)-hardwickiic acid isolated from Casearia sylvestris leaves, and investigated the underlying mechanisms involved in in vitro cell death induced by Cas X in HL-60 leukemia cells (0.7, 1.5 and 3.0 mu M). Cytotoxicity tests demonstrated that Cas X was the most active compound studied, showing greater cytotoxic effects against CEM and HL-60 lines (IC50 of 0.4 mu M) and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC, IC50 of 1.2 mu M). After 24 h exposure, Cas X caused a decrease in 5-bromo-20-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation (36.6 and 24.5% labeling at 0.7 and 1.5 mu M. respectively), reduction in viability, and increase in apoptotic and necrotic leukemia cells in a dose-dependent manner evidenced by the trypan blue and AO/EB (acridine orange/ethidium bromide) assays. Moreover, Cas X-treatecl cells exhibited nuclear fragmentation and cytoplasmic vacuolization depending on the concentration tested. These characteristics of apoptosis or secondary necrosis were confirmed by flow cytometry which revealed DNA fragmentation, phosphatidylserine externalization, activation of the effector caspases 3/7 and mitochondria! depolarization. We then found evidence that Cas X causes cell death via apoptotic pathways, corroborating the potential of casearins as compounds with promising antitumor-related properties. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.