Background: Eliminating cancer stem cells (CSCs) has been suggested for prevention of tumor recurrence and metastasis. Honokiol, an active compound of Magnolia officinalis, had been proposed to be a potential candidate drug for cancer treatment. We explored its effects on the elimination of oral CSCs both in vitro and in vivo. Methods: By using the Hoechst side population (SP) technique, CSCs-like SP cells were isolated from human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell lines, SAS and OECM-1. Effects of honokiol on the apoptosis and signaling pathways of SP-derived spheres were examined by Annexin V/Propidium iodide staining and Western blotting, respectively. The in vivo effectiveness was examined by xenograft mouse model and immunohistochemical tissue staining. Results: The SP cells possessed higher stemness marker expression (ABCG2, Ep-CAM, Oct-4 and Nestin), clonogenicity, sphere formation capacity as well as tumorigenicity when compared to the parental cells. Treatment of these SP-derived spheres with honokiol resulted in apoptosis induction via Bax/Bcl-2 and caspase-3-dependent pathway. This apoptosis induction was associated with marked suppression of JAK2/STAT3, Akt and Erk signaling pathways in honokiol-treated SAS spheres. Consistent with its effect on JAK2/STAT3 suppression, honokiol also markedly inhibited IL-6-mediated migration of SAS cells. Accordingly, honokiol dose-dependently inhibited the growth of SAS SP xenograft and markedly reduced the immunohistochemical staining of PCNA and endothelial marker CD31 in the xenograft tumor. Conclusions: Honokiol suppressed the sphere formation and xenograft growth of oral CSC-like cells in association with apoptosis induction and inhibition of survival/proliferation signaling pathways as well as angiogenesis. These results suggest its potential as an integrative medicine for combating oral cancer through targeting on CSCs.
- Cancer stem-like side population
- JAK2/STAT3 pathway
- Oral cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research