The molecular mechanism for inhibiting the growth of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells using polymethoxyflavonoids purified from pericarp of Citrus reticulata ‘Chachi’ via HSCCC
Polymethoxyflavonoids (PMFs), the main bioactive compounds naturally occurring in the pericarp of Citrus reticulata ‘Chachi’ (CRCP), possess significant antitumor action. However, the action of PMFs in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is currently unknown. The present research study was conducted to investigate the inhibitory mechanisms of PMFs from CRCP on NPC growth in vivo and in vitro . In our research, we used high-speed counter-current chromatography (HSCCC) to separate four PMFs (nobiletin (NOB), 3,5,6,7,8,3′,4′-heptamethoxyflavone (HMF), tangeretin (TGN), and 5-hydroxy-6,7,8,3′,4′-pentamethoxyflavone (5-HPMF)) from CRCP. CCK-8 assay was used to preliminarily screen cell viability following exposure to the four PMFs. Colony formation, Hoechst-33258 staining, transwell, and wound scratch assays were performed to assess the anti-proliferation, invasion, migration, and apoptosis-inducing effects of HMF on NPC cells. NPC tumors in xenograft tumor transplantation experiments were also established to explore the effect of HMF (100 and 150 mg/kg/day) on NPC. The histopathological changes in the treated rats were observed by H&E staining and Ki-67 detection by immunohistochemical techniques. The expressions of P70S6K, p-P70S6K, S6, p-S6, COX-2, p53, and p-p53 were measured by Western blot. The four PMFs were obtained with high purity (>95.0%). The results of the preliminary screening by CCK-8 assay suggested that HMF had the strongest inhibitory effect on NPC cell growth. The results of the colony formation, Hoechst-33258 staining, transwell, and wound scratch assays indicated that HMF had significant anti-proliferation, invasion, migration, and apoptosis-inducing ability in NPC cells. Moreover, HMF suppressed NPC tumor growth in xenograft tumor transplantation experiments. Further investigation suggested that HMF regulated NPC cells proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and invasion by activating AMPK-dependent signaling pathways. In conclusion, HMF-induced AMPK activation inhibited NPC cell growth, invasion, and metastatic potency by downregulating the activation of the mTOR signaling pathway and COX-2 protein levels, as well as enhancing the p53 phosphorylation level. Our study provides a crucial experimental basis for the clinical treatment of NPC, as well as the development and utilization of PMFs from CRCP.