A preclinical evaluation of thiostrepton, a natural antibiotic, in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

  • Yen-Bin Hsu
  • Ming-Chin Lan
  • Yu-Lun Kuo
  • Chi-Ying F. HuangEmail author
  • Ming-Ying LanEmail author


Background Thiostrepton, a natural antibiotic, has recently been shown to be a potential anticancer drug for certain cancers, but its study in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is still limited. The aims of this study were to investigate the anticancer effect of thiostrepton on NPC cells and to explore its underlying mechanism. Methods The effects of thiostrepton on the proliferation, migration, and invasion of NPC cells were investigated by a WST-1 assay, wound healing assay, and cell invasion assay, respectively. Microarrays were conducted and further analyzed by Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) to determine the molecular mechanism by which thiostrepton affects NPC cells. Results Our results showed that thiostrepton reduced NPC cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. Thiostrepton inhibited the migration and invasion of NPC cells in wound healing and cell invasion assays. The microarray data analyzed by IPA indicated the top 5 ingenuity canonical pathways, which were unfolded protein response, NRF2-mediated oxidative stress response, retinoate biosynthesis I, choline biosynthesis III, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma signaling. Conclusion Thiostrepton effectively suppressed NPC cell proliferation, migration, and invasion, likely by several mechanisms. Thiostrepton may be a potential therapeutic agent for treating NPC in the future.


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma Thiostrepton Anticancer drug Microarray 



The authors thank Clinical Research Core Laboratory at Taipei Veterans General Hospital for the facility support.


This research was supported by grants from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital (V105-B–022 and V108C-088), and Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 106–2314-B-075-035-MY3 and MOST 107–2320-B-010-040-MY3).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck SurgeryTaipei Veterans General HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Institute of Clinical MedicineNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical FoundationTaipei Tzu Chi HospitalNew Taipei CityTaiwan
  4. 4.School of MedicineTzu Chi UniversityHualienTaiwan
  5. 5.Biotools, Co., LtdNew Taipei CityTaiwan
  6. 6.Institute of Biopharmaceutical SciencesNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  7. 7.School of MedicineNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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