Autophagy Inhibition Enhances the Mitochondrial-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by Mangrove (Avicennia marina) Extract in Human Breast Cancer Cells

Luke Esau, Sunil Sagar, Vladimir B. Bajic, Mandeep Kaur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Avicennia marina (AM) is a widely distributed mangrove plant that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries for the treatment of a number of diseases. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the leaf ethyl acetate extract of AM for its cytotoxic and apoptotic potential along with in-depth investigations of its mechanism of action in breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Study Design: The ethyl acetate extract of leaves and stems of AM was tested against estrogen positive breast cancer cell line MCF-7 using various assays. Place and Duration of Study: The study was carried out at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, from July 2013-June 2014. Methodology: Dose- and time-dependent growth inhibition of cancer cells was measured using MTT assay. The mechanisms of apoptosis induction were determined using various assays: phosphatidylserine exposure, caspase-3/7 activation, mitochondrial membrane potential disruption, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, cell cycle analysis, autophagy, and protein expression using western blotting. The modulation of apoptotic genes (p53, Mdm2, NF-kB, Bad, Bax, Bcl-2 and Casp7) was also determined using real time PCR. Results: The AM extract inhibited breast cancer cell growth and induced apoptosis in a concentration dependent manner. We demonstrated a non-classical mode of apoptosis induction in MCF-7 cells by AM extract, where ROS production altered the mitochondrial membrane potential to induce apoptosis. Breast cancer cells treated with 200 µg/ml concentration of AM extract showed increased ROS production and disrupted MMP but no PARP-1 cleavage and a marked decrease in Caspase-7 protein levels (24 and 48 h) were detected. A significant amount of autophagy was also observed at the same concentration. However, treatment of MCF-7 cells with 200 µg/ml of AM extract along with the inhibition of autophagy by chloroquine, significantly increased the apoptosis from 20% to 45%. Conclusion: Our data provide evidence that AM extract triggers ROS-mediated autophagy as well as caspase-independent apoptosis. The results also strengthen the view that concurrent targeting of apoptotic and autophagic pathways may provide effective therapeutic strategy against cancer.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-317
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Plants
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 10 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Autophagy Inhibition Enhances the Mitochondrial-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by Mangrove (Avicennia marina) Extract in Human Breast Cancer Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this