Medicinal Chemistry Research

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 107–115 | Cite as

Mechanistic studies of the apoptosis induced by the macrocyclic natural product tetrandrine in MGC 803 cells

  • Sai-Qi Wang
  • Hong-Lin Hou
  • Liang-Yu Bie
  • Cai-Yun Nie
  • Luo-Nan Wang
  • Shaobing Gao
  • Ting-Ting Hu
  • Xiao-Bing ChenEmail author
Original Research


Tetrandrine (Tet) is a macrocyclic tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid isolated from Stephania tetrandra S. Moore along with other Chinese and Japanese herbs. It has been used extensively for the treatment of silicosis, autoimmune disorders, inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Of late, Tet has garnered increasing attention for its anticancer activity and its efficacy to reverse chemoresistance. In this study, we evaluated the cytotoxicity of Tet on MGC 803 gastric cancer cells using the methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) assay. In addition, apoptosis and cell cycle were analyzed through flow cytometry, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) was measured using fluorescence microscopy and migration of cells was determined by transwell assay. It was observed that Tet efficiently inhibited the proliferation of MGC 803 cells in a concentration-dependent and time-dependent manner and reduced the number of colonies at low concentrations. It induced apoptosis through mitochondrial dysfunction, which may be related with upregulated Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), and downregulated of B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2). On the other hand, Tet blocked the cell cycle at Gap 2 (G2)/mitosis (M) phase, which was associated with the upregulation of p21CIP1/WAF1. Furthermore, Tet elevated the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level and suppressed the migration of MGC 803 cells. Altogether, we demonstrated that Tet inhibited the proliferation and migration of gastric cancer MGC 803 cells and thus might be a potential drug candidate for the treatment of gastric cancer.


Tetrandrine Apoptosis Cell cycle arrest Migration 



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 81472714 for Xiao-Bing Chen).; the Key Medical Technologies Research & Development Program of Henan Provence (No. 201502027 for Xiao-Bing Chen).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

44_2018_2268_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (434 kb)
Supplementary Information
44_2018_2268_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (258 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oncology, The Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Zhengzhou UniversityHenan Cancer HospitalZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of OncologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xinxiang Medical UniversityXinxiangChina
  3. 3.Central Laboratory, The Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Zhengzhou UniversityHenan Cancer HospitalZhengzhouChina

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