7-O-geranylquercetin-induced autophagy contributes to apoptosis via ROS generation in human non-small cell lung cancer cells

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To investigate the antitumor effects of 7-O-geranylquercetin (GQ), a novel O-alkylated derivative of quercetin, against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines A549 and NCI-H1975 and the corresponding mechanisms.

Main methods:

Cell viability was assessed using MTT assay. The expression of proteins involved in apoptosis and autophagy was measured using western blotting. Besides, apoptosis was determined with DAPI staining, Annexin V-PI staining and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) assay, and autophagy was observed with TEM assay. Cell cycle and reactive oxygen species (ROS) level were detected using flow cytometry.

Key findings:

GQ inhibited viability of A549 and NCI-H1975 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner without apparent cytotoxicity to normal human lung fibroblast cells. GQ down-regulated the expression of apoptosis-related proteins pro-caspase 3 and Bcl-2, and up-regulated the expression of cleaved-PARP and Bax in A549 and NCI-H1975 cells. Meanwhile, GQ-induced cell apoptosis could be attenuated by caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK. Besides, GQ induced autophagosome formation in A549 and NCI-H1975 cells, promoted the expression of autophagy-related proteins LC3-II and Beclin 1, and suppressed the expression of p62. Autophagy inhibition with chloroquine or Beclin 1 siRNA could effectively inhibit GQ-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, GQ treatment increased the generation of ROS, and ROS inhibitor N-acetylcysteine could reverse GQ-induced autophagy and apoptosis. Taken together, GQ could induce apoptosis and autophagy via ROS generation in A549 and NCI-H1975 cells, and GQ-induced autophagy contributed to apoptosis.


Our findings highlight that GQ is a promising anticancer agent for the treatment of lung cancer.

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