Lv M, et al. Cell Biol Toxicol 2020.
Cisplatin-based therapy is a widely used chemotherapeutic regimen for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); however, drug resistance limits its efficacy. Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA), a bioactive compound from frankincense, has been shown to exert anti-cancer effects. The aim of this study is to explore the potential of AKBA in combination with cisplatin as a new regimen for NSCLC. CCK8 assay and clone formation assay were used to determine the effects of AKBA in combination with
cisplatin on cell viability of NSCLC cell lines. A three-dimensional spherification assay was used to simulate in vivo tumor formation. Flow cytometry was performed to examine cell cycle distribution and the percentages of apoptotic cells. The associated proteins and mRNA of cell cycle, apoptosis, and autophagy were measured by western blotting and real-time fluorescence quantitative PCR. Immunofluorescence assay was used to test apoptotic nuclei and autolysosome. Small interfering RNA experiments were used to silence the expression of p21. Combination treatment of AKBA and cisplatin inhibited cell viability, clone formation, and three-dimensional spherification, enhanced G0/G1 phase arrest, increased the percentages of apoptotic cells, and decreased the ratio of positive autolysosomes, compared with cisplatin alone. AKBA in combination with cisplatin suppressed the protein expressions of cyclin A2, cyclin E1, p-cdc2, CDK4, Bcl-xl, Atg5, and LC3A/B, and upregulated p27 and p21 mRNA levels in A549 cells. Downregulation of p21 decreased G0/G1 phase arrest and the percentages of apoptotic cells, and promoted autophagy in NSCLC A549 cells. Our study demonstrates that AKBA enhances the cisplatin sensitivity of NSCLC cells and that the mechanisms involve G0/G1 phase arrest, apoptosis induction, and autophagy suppression via targeting p21-dependent signaling pathway.