Lupeol modulates NF-κB and PI3K/Akt pathways and inhibits skin cancer in CD-1 mice

Mohammad Saleem, Farrukh Afaq, Vaqar Mustafa Adhami, Hasan Mukhtar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


Chemoprevention has become an effective cancer control modality; however, the search for novel agent(s) for the armamentarium of cancer chemoprevention continues. We argue that agents capable for inhibition of promotion stage of tumorigenesis with the ability to intervene at several critical pathways in the tumorigenesis process will have greater advantage over other single-target agents. Lupeol, a triterpene, is the principal constituent of common fruit plants such as olive, mango, fig and medicinal herbs that have been used to treat skin aliments. Lupeol has been reported to possess a wide range of medicinal properties that include strong antioxidant, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic effects. In the present study, we show that Lupeol possesses antitumor-promoting effects in a mouse skin tumorigenesis model. We first determined the effect of topical application of Lupeol to CD-1 mouse against 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced conventional markers and other novel markers of skin tumor promotion. We found that topical application of Lupeol (1-2 mg/mouse) 30 min prior to TPA (3.2 nmol/mouse) application onto the skin of CD-1 mice afforded significant inhibition, in a time- and dose-dependent manner, against TPA-mediated increase in (i) skin edema and hyperplasia, (ii) epidermal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity, and (iii) protein expression of ODC, cyclo-oxygenase-2 and nitric oxide synthase. As of the role of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling in tumor promotion, we next determined the effect of topical application of Lupeol to mouse skin against these signaling pathways. We found that Lupeol treatment to mouse skin resulted in the inhibition of TPA-induced (i) activation of PI3K, (ii) phosphorylation of Akt at Thr 308, (iii) activation of NF-κB and IKKα, and (iv) degradation and phosphorylation of IκBα. The animals pretreated with Lupeol showed significantly reduced tumor incidence, lower tumor body burden and a significant delay in the latency period for tumor appearance. At the termination of the experiment at 28 weeks, 100% of the animals in TPA-treated group exhibited seven to eight tumors/mouse, whereas only 53% of the mice receiving Lupeol prior to TPA treatment exhibited one to three tumors/mouse. These results for the first time provide evidence that Lupeol possesses antiskin tumor-promoting effects in CD-1 mouse and inhibits conventional as well as novel biomarkers of tumor promotion. We suggest that Lupeol is an attractive antitumor-promoting agent that must be evaluated in tumor models other than skin carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5203-5214
Number of pages12
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by United States Public Health Service Grants RO1 CA 78809 and RO3 CA 99909.


  • Chemoprevention
  • Lupeol
  • NF-κB
  • PI3K/Akt
  • Skin cancer


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