Research Papers:

Cryptotanshinone inhibits proliferation yet induces apoptosis by suppressing STAT3 signals in renal cell carcinoma

Zhiguo Chen, Rujian Zhu, Jiayi Zheng, Chen Chen, Chi Huang, Junjie Ma, Chen Xu, Wei Zhai _ and Junhua Zheng

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:50023-50033. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18483

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Zhiguo Chen1, Rujian Zhu2,3, Jiayi Zheng4, Chen Chen2, Chi Huang2, Junjie Ma2, Chen Xu1, Wei Zhai1,5 and Junhua Zheng1

1Department of Urology, Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

2Department of Urology, The Affiliated Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Shanghai, China

3Department of Urology, Shanghai Pudong Hospital, Fudan University Pudong Medical Center, Shanghai, China

4Department of Pathology, Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

5Department of Urology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

Correspondence to:

Wei Zhai, email: [email protected]

Junhua Zheng, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cryptotanshinone, renal cell carcinoma, cell proliferation, cell apoptosis, STAT3

Abbreviations: CPT: cryptotanshinone; RCC: renal cell carcinoma; STAT3: signal transducer and activator of transcription 3; DMSO: dimethyl sulfoxide

Received: January 23, 2017    Accepted: May 04, 2017    Published: June 15, 2017


It has been established that signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 serves as an oncoprotein in various human cancers; targeting it is therefore a reasonable approach for emerging cancer therapies. Cryptotanshinone, a natural compound extracted from the root of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, has been identified as a potential STAT3 inhibitor. However, its functional role in renal cell carcinomas remains largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated the mode of action for cryptotanshinone. We found that cryptotanshinone substantially suppressed cancer cell growth while it promoted cell apoptosis by inhibiting the phosphorylation of STAT3 at Tyr705 and its blocking nuclear translocation. Coordinately, P-AKT, CyclinD1, C-MYC, MEKK2, and HGF were down-regulated and cell cycle progression was arrested at the G0/G1 phase, thereby attenuating cell proliferation. Moreover, the level of Cleaved-Caspase-3 was elevated while Bcl-2 and Survivin were down-regulated, accounting for the increased apoptosis. Furthermore, in vivo results revealed that cryptotanshinone effectively inhibits tumorigenesis in an A498-xenografted mouse model. Taken together, our data gives a more comprehensive understanding of how cryptotanshinone functions in renal cell carcinomas and demonstrates its potential as a powerful therapeutic approach to treat renal cell carcinomas.

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