Oxidative stress expression in glioblastoma cells
Cynaropicrin has shown a wide range of pharmacological properties, such as antitumor action. Here, we showed the inhibitory effect of Cyn on human glioblastoma cell U-87 MG growth. According to the IC50 values, Cyn 4, 8 and 10 µM displayed a significant cytotoxicity, as confirmed by the cell count and MTT assay. Furthermore, Cyn completely abolished the ability of U-87 MG to form colonies and induced drastic morphological changes. Interestingly, pretreatment with ROS scavenger N-acetylcysteine 3 mM reversed the cytotoxicity induced by Cyn 25 µM and preserved the cells by morphological changes. Therefore, oxidative stress induction was evaluated at low 8- and high 25-µM concentrations in U-87 MG, as demonstrated by the quantitative and qualitative analysis of ROS. A prolonged increase in ROS generation under Cyn 25 µM exposure was followed by the loss of the mitochondrial membrane potential in treated U-87 MG cells. An acute treatment with Cyn 25 µM induced Cyt c release, as revealed by immunofluorescence staining and the activation of cell death pathways, apoptosis and autophagy. On the other hand, chronic treatment with Cyn 8 µM induced senescence, as revealed by the increase in SA-β-Gal activity. Moreover, at this concentration, Cyn led to ERK dephosphorylation accompanied by a relevant reduction of the NF-κB p65 subunit. Finally, the combined effect of TMZ and Cyn resulted in synergistic cytotoxicity, as evaluated by the Bliss additivity model. The strong cytotoxicity of Cyn was also confirmed on IDH1 mutant U-87 MG cells and patient-derived IDH wild-type glioblastoma cell lines NULU and ZAR. In conclusion, given the high toxicity at minimal concentrations, the high inhibition of tumor cell growth and synergy with the standard drug for glioblastoma TMZ, Cyn could be proposed as a potential adjuvant for the treatment of glioblastoma.