Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn induces reactive oxygen species-mediated apoptosis via regulation of miR-19a-3p/PTEN/PI3K/AKT in U937 and THP-1 cells

Moon Nyeo Park, Eun Sik Um, Md Ataur Rahman, Jeong Woo Kim, Se Sun Park, Yongmin Cho, Hangyul Song, So Ri Son, Dae Sik Jang, Woojin Kim, Bum Sang Shim, Kwan Il Kim, Eungyeong Jang, Bonglee Kim, Youngchul Kim

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Ethnopharmacological relevance: Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn is a medicinal ingredient in more than 300 prescriptions in traditional Korean medicine. It is especially important for women's health and blood-related diseases. Recent research revealed that Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn extracts have antioxidative, anticancer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Aim of the study: However, its underlying anti-cancerous mechanisms remain unclear. This study elucidated the anticancer mechanism of Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn in U937 and THP-1 cancer cells. Materials and methods: High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used for detecting main compound of Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn, rutin. EZ-Cytox cell viability assay, Western blot analysis, live and dead cell assay, 2′, 7’ dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCFDA) assay, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis, and microRNA (miR) mimic transfection assay were applied to further investigate anti-cancer efficacies and underlying mechanism in U937 and THP-1 cells. Results: The main compound of Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn, rutin was detected using HPLC. The cytotoxic effect of Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn was exerted in U937 and THP-1 cancer cells but not in MDBK and IEC-6 normal cells. Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn decreased mitochondria membrane potential (ΔΨm). Consistently, Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn reduced the expression of survivin and cleaved caspase-9, caspase-3, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Cell death was increased in Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn treated groups. Phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) and CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) was increased and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) and Protein kinase B (AKT) were decreased by Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn. Reactive oxygen speices generation was elevated by Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn and its cytotoxicity was reversed by N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) pretreatment. Moreover, onco-microRNA (miR), miR-19a-3p was suppressed by Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn and transfection of miR-19a-3p mimic reversed the regulated PTEN, p-AKT, CHOP expression, attenuating Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn induced apoptosis. Conclusions: These findings indicated that Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn has anti-cancer effects by regulation of PTEN/PI3K/AKT signal pathway and ROS-related ER stress-induced apoptosis via regulation of miR-19a-3p. Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn may be an effective candidate for triggering PTEN-dependent apoptosis of cancer cells related to acute myeloid leukemia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115129
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2022


  • Cancer
  • Leonurus japonicus Houttuyn
  • Mitochondrial membrane potential
  • PTEN
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • miR-19a-3p


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