Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2021; 12:61-62.

Cepharanthine hydrochloride reverses the mdr1 (P-glycoprotein)-mediated esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cell cisplatin resistance through JNK and p53 signals

Pengjun Zhou, Rong Zhang, Ying Wang, Dandan Xu, Li Zhang, Jinhong Qin, Guifeng Su, Yue Feng, Hongce Chen, Siyuan You, Wen Rui, Huizhong Liu, Suhong Chen, Hongyuan Chen and Yifei Wang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:111144-111160. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22676

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Pengjun Zhou1,2,*, Rong Zhang3,*, Ying Wang1, Dandan Xu4, Li Zhang5, Jinhong Qin1, Guifeng Su1, Yue Feng1, Hongce Chen2, Siyuan You2, Wen Rui2, Huizhong Liu6, Suhong Chen4, Hongyuan Chen2,7 and Yifei Wang1

1Guangzhou Jinan Biomedicine Research and Development Center, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Bioengineering Medicine, College of Life Science and Technology, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, Guangdong, P. R. China

2Department of Pathogen Biology and Immunology, School of Basic Course, Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, Guangzhou 510006, Guangdong, P. R. China

3State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China and Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou 510060, Guangdong, P. R. China

4Guangdong Food and Drug Vocational College, Guangzhou 510520, Guangdong, P. R. China

5Guangzhou Institute of Pediatrics, Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou 510623, Guangdong, P. R. China

6Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an 710032, Shanxi, P. R. China

7Guangdong Provincial Engineering Center of Topical Precise Drug Delivery System, Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, Guangzhou 510006, Guangdong, P. R. China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yifei Wang, email: [email protected]

Hongyuan Chen, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cepharanthine hydrochloride; multi-drug resistance; MDR1; p-53; c-Jun/JNK

Received: August 23, 2017    Accepted: November 07, 2017    Published: November 27, 2017


Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an aggressive malignancy that is often resistant to therapy. Nowadays, chemotherapy is still one of the main methods for the treatment of ESCC. However, the multidrug resistance (MDR)-mediated chemotherapy resistance is one of the leading causes of death. Exploring agents able to reverse MDR, which thereby increase the sensitivity with clinical first-line chemotherapy drugs, could significantly improve cancer treatment. Cepharanthine hydrochloride (CEH) has the ability to reverse the MDR in ESCC and the mechanism involved have not been reported. The aim of the study was to investigate the potential of CEH to sensitize chemotherapeutic drugs in ESCC and explore the underlying mechanisms by in vitro and in vivo studies. Our data demonstrated that CEH significantly inhibited ESCC cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner, induced G2/M phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, and increased the sensitivity of cell lines resistant to cisplatin (cDDP). Mechanistically, CEH inhibited ESCC cell growth and induced apoptosis through activation of c-Jun, thereby inhibiting the expression of P-gp, and enhancing p21 expression via activation of the p53 signaling pathway. In this study, we observed that growth of xenograft tumors derived from ESCC cell lines in nude mice was also significantly inhibited by combination therapy. To our knowledge, we demonstrate for the first time that CEH is a potentially effective MDR reversal agent for ESCC, based on downregulation of the mRNA expression of MDR1 and P-gp. Together, these results reveal emphasize CEH putative role as a resistance reversal agent for ESCC.

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