Targeting AKT with oridonin inhibits growth of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in vitro and patient-derived xenografts in vivo

Mengqiu Song, Xuejiao Liu, Kangdong Liu, Ran Zhao, Hai Huang, Yuanyuan Shi, Man Zhang, Silei Zhou, Hua Xie, Hanyong Chen, Yin Li, Yan Zheng, Qiong Wu, Fangfang Liu, Enmin Li, Ann M. Bode, Zigang Dong, Mee Hyun Lee

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58 Scopus citations


Overexpression or activation of AKT is very well known to control cell growth, survival, and gene expression in solid tumors. Oridonin, an inflammatory medical and diterpenoid compound isolated from Rabdosia rubescens, has exhibited various pharmacologic and physiologic properties, including antitumor, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. In this study, we demonstrated that oridonin is an inhibitor of AKT and suppresses proliferation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in vitro and in vivo. The role of AKT in ESCC was studied using immuno-histochemical analysis of a tumor microarray, the effect of AKT knockdown on cell growth, and treatment of cells with MK-2206, an AKT inhibitor. Oridonin blocked AKT kinase activity and interacted with the ATP-binding pocket of AKT. It inhibited growth of KYSE70, KYSE410, and KYSE450 esophageal cancer cells in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Oridonin induced arrest of cells in the G 2 -M cell-cycle phase, stimulated apoptosis, and increased expression of apoptotic biomarkers, including cleaved PARP, caspase-3, caspase-7, and Bim s in ESCC cell lines. Mechanistically, we found that oridonin diminished the phosphorylation and activation of AKT signaling. Furthermore, a combination of oridonin and 5-fluorouracil or cisplatin (clinical chemothera-peutic agents) enhanced the inhibition of ESCC cell growth. The effects of oridonin were verified in patient-derived xenograft tumors expressing high levels of AKT. In summary, our results indicate that oridonin acts as an AKT inhibitor to suppress the growth of ESCC by attenuating AKT signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1540-1553
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Ran Yang and Shen Yang, China-US (Henan) Hormel Cancer Institute for supporting experiments. This work was supported by grant funding from the NIH, USA CA187027, CA 166011, CA 196639 and Key program of Henan Province, China. Grant no. 161100510300 (to Z. Dong) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China NSFC81672767 (to M. Lee), NSFC81372269, NSFC81572812 (to K. Liu), and Henan Provincial Government, China.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Association for Cancer Research.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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