Taraxerol Induces Cell Apoptosis through A Mitochondria-Mediated Pathway in HeLa Cells

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biology and Food Engineering, Bengbu University, Bengbu, China

2 School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

3 School of Biology and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Wuhan, China


Taraxerol acetate has potent anti-cancer effects via the induction of apoptosis, autophagy, cell cycle arrest, and inhibition of cell migration. However, whether taraxerol induced apoptosis and its underlying mechanisms of action is not clear. In the present study, we assess the effects of taraxerol on the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway and determine the release of cytochrome c to the cytosol and activation of caspases.
Materials and Methods
In this experimental study, we mainly investigated the effect of taraxerol on HeLa cells. We tested cell viability by the MTT assay and morphologic changes, analyzed apoptosis by DAPI staining and flow cytometry. We also determined reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) using a Microplate Reader. In addition, the apoptotic proteins were tested by Western blot.
Taraxerol enhanced ROS levels and attenuated the MMP (Δψm) in HeLa cells. Taraxerol induced apoptosis mainly via the mitochondrial pathway including the release of cytochrome c to the cytosol and activation of caspases 9 and 3, and anti-poly (ADP- ribose) polymerase (PARP). Taraxerol could induce the down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and up-regulation of pro-apoptotic protein Bax. It suppressed the PI3K/ Akt signaling pathway.
These results demonstrated that taraxerol induced cell apoptosis through a mitochondria-mediated pathway in HeLa cells. Thus, taraxerol might be a potential anticervical cancer candidate.