Investigational New Drugs

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 912–922 | Cite as

MICONIDINE acetate, a new selective and cytotoxic compound with synergic potential, induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in leukemia cells

  • Mariana Franzoni Maioral
  • Natália Marceli Stefanes
  • Álisson Bigolin
  • Gabriele Andressa Zatelli
  • Ana Cláudia Philippus
  • Miriam de Barcellos Falkenberg
  • Maria Cláudia Santos-SilvaEmail author


Plants are important sources of biologically active compounds and they provide unlimited opportunities for the discovery and development of new drug leads, including new chemotherapeutics. Miconidin acetate (MA) is a hydroquinone derivative isolated from E. hiemalis. In this study we demonstrated that MA was cytotoxic against acute leukemia (AL), solid tumor cells and cancer stem cells, with the strongest effect exhibited against AL. Furthermore, it was non-cytotoxic against non-tumor cells and did not cause significant hemolysis. MA blocks the G2/M phase and causes cytostatic effects, acting in a similar way to dexamethasone by increasing PML expression. The compound also triggered intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis by modulating Bax, FasR and survivin expression. This led to an extensive mitochondrial damage that resulted in AIF, cytochrome c and endonuclease G release, caspase-3 and PARP cleavage and DNA fragmentation. We have further demonstrated that MA was strongly cytotoxic against neoplastic cells collected from patients with different AL subtypes. Interestingly, MA increased the cytotoxic effect of chemotherapeutics cytarabine and vincristine. This study indicates that MA may be a new agent for AL and highlights its potential as a new source of anticancer drugs.

Graphical abstract

MA blocks G2/M phase with PML expression and KI67 inhibition, ROS generation and intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis, leading to mitochondrial damage, caspase 3 and PARP cleavage and DNA fragmentation.


Cell death Acute leukemia Cytotoxicity Apoptosis Miconidine acetate 



This study was supported by grants and fellowship from CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) (Brazil). Santos-Silva M.C. is recipient of a Research Fellowship from CNPq (National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development) (Brazil).

Author contributions

Mariana Maioral: Cell viability, FACS and WB experiments; manuscript writing.

Natália Stefanes: Synergic experiments with chemotherapeutics; manuscript writing.

Álisson Bigolin: Cell viability experiments; manuscript writing.

Gabriele Zatelli: Compound extraction, isolation and identification; manuscript writing.

Ana Philippus: Compound extraction, isolation and identification; manuscript writing.

Miriam de Barcellos Falkenberg: Manuscript review; experimental supervision.

Maria Cláudia Santos-Silva: Manuscript review; experimental supervision.


This study was supported by fellowships from CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) (Brazil) and CNPq (National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development) (Brazil) n° 306682/2015–0.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author A (Mariana Franzoni Maioral) declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author B (Natália Marceli Stefanes) declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author C (Álisson Bigolin) declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author D (Gabriele Andressa Zatelli) declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author E (Ana Cláudia Philippus) declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author F (Miriam de Barcellos Falkenberg) declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author G (Maria Cláudia Santos-Silva) declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants have been conducted with the ethical approval of relevant bodies and that such approvals are acknowledged within the manuscript (Medical Ethics Committee CEPSH n°746.486/2014).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariana Franzoni Maioral
    • 1
    • 2
  • Natália Marceli Stefanes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Álisson Bigolin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gabriele Andressa Zatelli
    • 2
  • Ana Cláudia Philippus
    • 2
  • Miriam de Barcellos Falkenberg
    • 2
  • Maria Cláudia Santos-Silva
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Experimental Oncology and Hemopathies Laboratory, Clinical Analysis DepartmentFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Post-Graduation Program in Pharmacy, Health Science CenterFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Oncologia Experimental e Hemopatias (LOEH), Departamento de Análises ClínicasCentro de Ciências da Saúde - Universidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil

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