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1.  Oncogenic MicroRNA-27a Is A Target For Anticancer Agent Methyl 2-Cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate in Colon Cancer Cells 
Methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) is a synthetic derivative of glycyrrhetinic acid, a triterpenoid phytochemical found in licorice extracts. CDODA-Me inhibited growth of RKO and SW480 colon cancer cells and this was accompanied by decreased expression of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 protein and mRNA and several Sp-dependent genes including survivin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1 or Flt-1). CDODA-Me also induced apoptosis, arrested RKO and SW480 cells at G2/M, and inhibited tumor growth in athymic nude mice bearing RKO cells as xenografts. CDODA-Me decreased expression of microRNA-27a (miR-27a), and this was accompanied by increased expression of two miR-27a-regulated mRNAs, namely ZBTB10 (an Sp repressor) and Myt-1 which catalyzes phosphorylation of cdc2 to inhibit progression of cells through G2/M. Both CDODA-Me and antisense miR-27a induced comparable responses in RKO and SW480 cells, suggesting that the potent anticarcinogenic activity of CDODA-Me is due to repression of oncogenic miR-27a.
PMCID: PMC2766353  PMID: 19582879
CDODA-Me; anticarcinogenicity; miR-27a; colon cancer; cell cycle
2.  Unifying Mechanisms of Action of the Anticancer Activities of Triterpenoids and Synthetic Analogs 
Triterpenoids such as betulinic acid (BA) and synthetic analogs of oleanolic acid [2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO)] and glycyrrhetinic acid [2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-oleana-1,12-dien-30-oc acid (CDODA)] are potent anticancer agents that exhibit antiproliferative, antiangiogenic, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic activities. Although their effects on multiple pathways have been reported, unifying mechanisms of action have not been reported. Studies in this laboratory have now demonstrated that several triterpenoids including BA and some derivatives, celastrol, methyl ursolatee, β-boswellic acid derivatives, and the synthetic analogs CDDO, CDODA and their esters decreased expression of specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors and several pro-oncogenic Sp-regulated genes in multiple cancer cell lines. The mechanisms of this response are both compound- and cell context-dependent and include activation of both proteasome-dependent and -independent pathways. Triterpenoid-mediated induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has now been characterized as an important proteasome-independent pathway for downregulation of Sp transcription factors. ROS decreases expression of microRNA-27a (miR-27a) and miR-20a/miR-17-5p and this results in the induction of the transcriptional “Sp-repressors” ZBTB10 and ZBTB4, respectively, which in turn downregulate Sp and Sp-regulated genes. Triterpenoids also activate or deactive nuclear receptors and G-protein coupled receptors, and these pathways contribute to their antitumorigenic activity and may also play a role in targeting Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 which are highly overexpressed in multiple cancers and appear to be important for maintaining the cancer phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3532564  PMID: 22583404
Sp transcription factors; downregulation; reactive oxygen species
3.  Induction of Apoptosis and Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drug-Activated Gene 1 in Pancreatic Cancer Cells By A Glycyrrhetinic Acid Derivative 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(8):692-702.
Methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) is a synthetic triterpenoid derived from glycyrrhetinic acid, a bioactive phytochemical in licorice, CDODA-Me inhibits growth of Panc1 and Panc28 pancreatic cancer cell lines and activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ)-dependent transactivation in these cells. CDODA-Me also induced p21 and p27 protein expression and downregulates cyclin D1; however, these responses were receptor-independent. CDODA-Me induced apoptosis in Panc1 and Panc28 cells, and this was accompanied by receptor-independent induction of the proapoptotic proteins early growth response-1 (Egr-1), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 (NAG-1), and activating transcription factor-3 (ATF3). Induction of NAG-1 and Egr-1 by CDODA-Me was dependent on activation of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-K) and/or p42 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways but there were differences between Panc28 and Panc1 cells. Induction of NAG-1 in Panc28 cells was p38-MAPK- and PI3-K-dependent but Egr-1-independent, whereas induction in Panc1 cells was associated with activation of p38-MAPK, PI3-K and p42-MAPK and was only partially Egr-1-dependent. This is the first report of the induction of the proapoptotic protein NAG-1 in pancreatic cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2746008  PMID: 19125423
CDODA-Me; pancreatic cancer; apoptosis
Molecular carcinogenesis  2011;50(9):655-667.
Methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) and the corresponding 2-trifluoromethyl analog (CF3DODA-Me) are derived synthetically from the triterpenoid glycyrrhetinic acid, a major component of licorice. CDODA-Me and CF3DODA-Me inhibited growth of highly invasive ARO, DRO, K-18 and HTh-74 thyroid cancer cells and this was due, in part, to decreased expression of specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 that are overexpressed in these cells. CDODA-Me and CF3DODA-Me also decreased expression of Sp-dependent genes, such as survivin and vascular endothelial growth factor, and induced apoptosis. In addition, pituitary tumor-transforming gene-1 (PTTG-1) protein and mRNA levels were also decreased in thyroid cancer cells treated with CDODA-Me or CF3DODA-Me and this was accompanied by decreased expression of PTTG-1-dependent c-Myc and fibroblast growth factor 2 genes. RNA interference studies against Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 proteins showed that in thyroid cancer cells, PTTG-1 was an Sp-dependent gene. This study demonstrates for the first time that drugs, such as CDODA-Me and CF3DODA-Me, that decrease Sp protein expression also downregulate PTTG-1 in thyroid cancer cells and therefore have potential for clinical treatment of thyroid cancer and other endocrine neoplasias where PTTG-1 is a major pro-oncogenic factor.
PMCID: PMC3128656  PMID: 21268135
PTTG-1; Sp proteins; thyroid cancer; anticancer agents
5.  The synthetic triterpenoid CDDO-methyl ester modulates microglial activities, inhibits TNF production, and provides dopaminergic neuroprotection 
Recent animal and human studies implicate chronic activation of microglia in the progressive loss of CNS neurons. The inflammatory mechanisms that have neurotoxic effects and contribute to neurodegeneration need to be elucidated and specifically targeted without interfering with the neuroprotective effects of glial activities. Synthetic triterpenoid analogs of oleanolic acid, such as methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me, RTA 402) have potent anti-proliferative and differentiating effects on tumor cells, and anti-inflammatory activities on activated macrophages. We hypothesized that CDDO-Me may be able to suppress neurotoxic microglial activities while enhancing those that promote neuronal survival. Therefore, the aims of our study were to identify specific microglial activities modulated by CDDO-Me in vitro, and to determine the extent to which this modulation affords neuroprotection against inflammatory stimuli.
We tested the synthetic triterpenoid methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me, RTA 402) in various in vitro assays using the murine BV2 microglia cell line, mouse primary microglia, or mouse primary peritoneal macrophages to investigate its effects on proliferation, inflammatory gene expression, cytokine secretion, and phagocytosis. The antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of CDDO-Me were also investigated in primary neuron/glia cultures from rat basal forebrain or ventral midbrain.
We found that at low nanomolar concentrations, treatment of rat primary mesencephalon neuron/glia cultures with CDDO-Me resulted in attenuated LPS-, TNF- or fibrillar amyloid beta 1–42 (Aβ1–42) peptide-induced increases in reactive microglia and inflammatory gene expression without an overall effect on cell viability. In functional assays CDDO-Me blocked death in the dopaminergic neuron-like cell line MN9D induced by conditioned media (CM) of LPS-stimulated BV2 microglia, but did not block cell death induced by addition of TNF to MN9D cells, suggesting that dopaminergic neuroprotection by CDDO-Me involved inhibition of microglial-derived cytokine production and not direct inhibition of TNF-dependent pro-apoptotic pathways. Multiplexed immunoassays of CM from LPS-stimulated microglia confirmed that CDDO-Me-treated BV2 cells produced decreased levels of specific subsets of cytokines, in particular TNF. Lastly, CDDO-Me enhanced phagocytic activity of BV2 cells in a stimulus-specific manner but inhibited generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in mixed neuron/glia basal forebrain cultures and dopaminergic cells.
The neuroimmune modulatory properties of CDDO-Me indicate that this potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may have therapeutic potential to modify the course of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by chronic neuroinflammation and amyloid deposition. The extent to which synthetic triterpenoids afford therapeutic benefit in animal models of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease deserves further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2396606  PMID: 18474101
6.  Chemical modifications of natural triterpenes - glycyrrhetinic and boswellic acids: evaluation of their biological activity 
Tetrahedron  2008;64(51):11541-11548.
Synthetic analogues of naturally occurring triterpenoids; glycyrrhetinic acid, arjunolic acid and boswellic acids, by modification of A-ring with a cyano- and enone- functionalities, have been reported. A novel method of synthesis of α-cyanoenones from isoxazoles is reported. Bio-assays using primary mouse macrophages and tumor cell lines indicate potent anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activities associated with cyanoenones of boswellic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid.
PMCID: PMC2900779  PMID: 20622928
7.  Structure-Dependent Inhibition of Bladder and Pancreatic Cancer Cell Growth by 2-Substituted Glycyrrhetinic and Ursolic Acid Derivatives 
Derivatives of oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid substituted with electron withdrawing groups at the 2-position in the A-ring which also contains a 1-en-3-one structure are potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth. In this study, we have compared the effects of several 2-substituted analogs of triterpenoid acid methyl esters derived from ursolic and glycyrrhetinic acid on proliferation of KU7 and 253JB-V bladder and Panc-1 and Panc-28 pancreatic cancer cells. The results show that the 2-cyano and 2-trifluoromethyl derivatives were the most active compounds. The glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives with the rearranged C-ring containing the 9(11)-en-12-one structure were generally more active than the corresponding 12-en-11-one isomers. However, differences in growth inhibitory IC50 values were highly variable and dependent on the 2- substitutent (CN vs. CF3) and cancer cell context.
PMCID: PMC2408873  PMID: 18359628
glycyrrhetinate analogs; growth inhibition; bladder cancer; pancreatic cancer
8.  Inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis by CDDO-Me in pancreatic cancer cells is ROS-dependent 
Oleanolic acid-derived synthetic triterpenoids are broad spectrum antiproliferative and antitumorigenic agents. In this study, we investigated the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in induction of apoptosis and inhibition of prosurvival Akt, NF-κB and mTOR signaling proteins by methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me) in pancreatic cancer cells. Micromolar concentrations of CDDO-Me inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in MiaPaCa-2 and Panc-1 pancreatic cancer cells. Treatment with CDDO-Me caused the generation of hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anion and pretreatment of cells with NADPH oxidase inhibitor diphylene iodonium (DPI) or respiratory chain complex 1 inhibitor rotenone prevented ROS generation. Pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) or overexpression of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) or superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) blocked the antiproliferative effects of CDDO-Me. Likewise, NAC prevented the induction of apoptosis (annexin V-FITC binding and cleavage of PARP-1 and procaspases-3,-8 and -9) and reversed the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and release of cytochrome c from mitochondria by CDDO-Me. CDDO-Me down-regulated p-Akt, p-mTOR and NF-κB (p65) but increased the activation of Erk1/2 and NAC blocked the modulation of these cell signaling proteins by CDDO-Me. Thus, the results of this study indicate that the antiproliferative and apoptosis inducing effects of CDDO-Me are mediated through a ROS-dependent mechanism and the role of ROS in modulation of signaling proteins by CDDO-Me warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3846287  PMID: 22946344
Pancreatic cancer; CDDO-Me; apoptosis; ROS; Akt; NF-κB; mTOR; Erk1/2
9.  CDDO-Me: A Novel Synthetic Triterpenoid for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer 
Cancers  2010;2(4):1779-1793.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most lethal human malignancy with dismal prognosis and few effective therapeutic options. Novel agents that are safe and effective are urgently needed. Oleanolic acid-derived synthetic triterpenoids are potent antitumorigenic agents, but their efficacy or the mechanism of action for pancreatic cancer has not been adequately investigated. In this study, we evaluated the antitumor activity and the mechanism of action of methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me), a oleanane-derived synthetic triterpenoid for human pancreatic cancer cell lines. CDDO-Me inhibited the growth of both K-ras mutated (MiaPaca2, Panc1 and Capan2) and wild-type K-ras (BxPC3) pancreatic cancer cells at very low concentrations. The growth inhibitory activity of CDDO-Me was attributed to the induction of apoptosis characterized by increased annexin-V-FITC binding and cleavage of PARP-1 and procaspases-3, -8 and-9. In addition, CDDO-Me induced the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and release of cytochrome C. The antitumor activity of CDDO-Me was associated with the inhibition of prosurvival p-Akt, NF-κB and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling proteins and the downstream targets of Akt and mTOR, such as p-Foxo3a (Akt) and p-S6K1, p-eIF-4E and p-4E-BP1 (mTOR). Silencing of Akt or mTOR with gene specific-siRNA sensitized the pancreatic cancer cells to CDDO-Me, demonstrating Akt and mTOR as molecular targets of CDDO-Me for its growth inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing activity.
PMCID: PMC3143824  PMID: 21799944
pancreatic cancer; CDDO-Me; apoptosis; Akt/mTOR signaling pathway
10.  CDDO-Me: A Novel Synthetic Triterpenoid for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer 
Cancers  2010;2(4):1779-1793.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most lethal human malignancy with dismal prognosis and few effective therapeutic options. Novel agents that are safe and effective are urgently needed. Oleanolic acid-derived synthetic triterpenoids are potent antitumorigenic agents, but their efficacy or the mechanism of action for pancreatic cancer has not been adequately investigated. In this study, we evaluated the antitumor activity and the mechanism of action of methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me), a oleanane-derived synthetic triterpenoid for human pancreatic cancer cell lines. CDDO-Me inhibited the growth of both K-ras mutated (MiaPaca2, Panc1 and Capan2) and wild-type K-ras (BxPC3) pancreatic cancer cells at very low concentrations. The growth inhibitory activity of CDDO-Me was attributed to the induction of apoptosis characterized by increased annexin-V-FITC binding and cleavage of PARP-1 and procaspases-3, -8 and-9. In addition, CDDO-Me induced the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and release of cytochrome C. The antitumor activity of CDDO-Me was associated with the inhibition of prosurvival p-Akt, NF-κB and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling proteins and the downstream targets of Akt and mTOR, such as p-Foxo3a (Akt) and p-S6K1, p-eIF-4E and p-4E-BP1 (mTOR). Silencing of Akt or mTOR with gene specific-siRNA sensitized the pancreatic cancer cells to CDDO-Me, demonstrating Akt and mTOR as molecular targets of CDDO-Me for its growth inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing activity.
PMCID: PMC3143824  PMID: 21799944
pancreatic cancer; CDDO-Me; apoptosis; Akt/mTOR signaling pathway
11.  New Synthetic Triterpenoids: Potent Agents for Prevention and Treatment of Tissue Injury Caused by Inflammatory and Oxidative Stress 
Journal of Natural Products  2011;74(3):537-545.
We review the original rationale for the development and the chemistry of a series of new synthetic oleanane triterpenoids (SO), based on oleanolic acid (1) as a starting material. Many of the new compounds that have been made, such as 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oic acid (“CDDO”, 8), are highly potent (activities found at levels below 1 nM) anti-inflammatory agents, as measured by their ability to block the cellular synthesis of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in activated macrophages. Details of the organic synthesis of new SO and their chemical mechanisms of biological activity are reviewed, as is formation of biotin conjugates for investigation of protein targets. Finally, we give a brief summary of important biological activities of SO in many organ systems in numerous animal models. Clinical investigation of a new SO (methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)dien-28-oate, “CDDO-Me”, bardoxolone methyl, 13) is currently in progress.
PMCID: PMC3064114  PMID: 21309592
12.  Bardoxolone methyl (CDDO-Me) as a therapeutic agent: an update on its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties 
Triterpenoids have been used for medicinal purposes in many Asian countries because of their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative, anticancer, and anticarcinogenic properties. Bardoxolone methyl, the C-28 methyl ester of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolean-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO) known as CDDO-Me or RTA 402, is one of the derivatives of synthetic triterpenoids. CDDO-Me has been used for the treatment of chronic kidney disease, cancer (including leukemia and solid tumors), and other diseases. In this review, we will update our knowledge of the clinical pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of CDDO-Me, highlighting its clinical benefits and the underlying mechanisms involved. The role of the Kelch-like erythroid cell-derived protein with CNC homology-associated protein 1 (Keap1)/the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway in the therapeutic activities of CDDO-Me will be discussed. CDDO-Me contains α,β-unsaturated carbonyl groups on rings A and C that can generate reversible adducts with the thiol groups of Cys residues in target proteins such as Keap1 and IκB kinase. At low nanomolar concentrations, CDDO-Me protects the cells against oxidative stress via inhibition of reactive oxygen species generation, while CDDO-Me at low micromolar concentrations induces apoptosis by increasing reactive oxygen species and decreasinging intracellular glutathione levels. Through Keap1/Nrf2 and nuclear factor-κB pathways, this agent can modulate the activities of a number of important proteins that regulate inflammation, redox balance, cell proliferation and programmed cell death. In a Phase I trial in cancer patients, CDDO-Me was found to have a slow and saturable oral absorption, a relatively long terminal phase half-life (39 hours at 900 mg/day), nonlinearity (dose-dependent) at high doses (600–1,300 mg/day), and high interpatient variability. As a multifunctional agent, CDDO-Me has improved the renal function in patients with chronic kidney disease associated with type 2 diabetes. CDDO-Me has shown a promising anticancer effect in a Phase I trial. This agent is generally well tolerated, but it may increase adverse cardiovascular events. Presently, it is being further tested for the treatment of patients with chronic kidney disease, cancer, and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4211867  PMID: 25364233
CDDO-Me; chronic kidney disease; cancer; pulmonary arterial hypertension; Nrf2; Keap1; NF-κB
13.  The Synthetic Triterpenoid CDDO-Im Inhibits Fatty Acid Synthase Expression and Has Antiproliferative and Proapoptotic Effects in Human Liposarcoma Cells 
Cancer investigation  2008;26(2):118-127.
Liposarcomas constitute a rare group of tumors of mesenchymal origin that are often poorly responsive to therapy. This study characterizes a novel human liposarcoma cell line (LiSa-2) and defines the mechanism of its response to a synthetic triterpenoid. Fatty acid synthase (FAS) is a key enzyme of de-novo fatty acid synthesis and is highly expressed in both human liposarcoma tissue specimens and LiSa-2 cells. Treatment of the LiSa-2 cell line with the synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic imidazolide (CDDO-Im) markedly inhibited FAS mRNA expression, FAS protein production and FAS gene promoter activity. As expected, fatty acid synthesis was down regulated, but there was no effect on cellular fatty acid uptake or glycerol-3-phosphate synthesis suggesting a selective inhibition of endogenous fatty acid synthesis. Importantly, CDDO-Im produced a dose-dependent apoptotic effect in the LiSa-2 cell line, and simultaneous treatment with CDDO-Im and the fatty acid synthase inhibitor Cerulenin produced a synergistic cytotoxic effect. Thus, CDDO-Im and Cerulenin act at different loci to inhibit long chain fatty acid synthesis in liposarcoma cells. This study’s demonstration of CDDO-Im inhibition of FAS and Spot 14 (S14) expression is the first report of triterpenoid compounds affecting the fatty acid synthesis pathway. The observed dependence of liposarcomas on lipogenesis to support their growth and survival provides a novel approach to the treatment of liposarcomas with agents that target fatty acid production.
PMCID: PMC3768287  PMID: 18259941
Liposarcoma; Fatty acid synthase; Spot-14; Lipogenic; Triterpenoid; CDDO
14.  Inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis by oleanane triterpenoid (CDDO-Me) in pancreatic cancer cells is associated with the suppression of hTERT gene expression and its telomerase activity 
Methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me) is a multifunctional oleanane synthetic triterpenoid with potent anti-inflammatory and antitumorigenic properties. The mechanisms of the antisurvival and apoptosis-inducing activities of CDDO-Me and related derivatives of oleanolic acid have been defined; however, to date, no study has been carried out on the effect of CDDOs on human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene or telomerase activity. Here we report for the first time that inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis by CDDO-Me in pancreatic cancer cell lines is associated with the inhibition of hTERT gene expression, hTERT telomerase activity and a number of proteins that regulate hTERT expression and activity. Furthermore, abrogation or overexpression of hTERT protein altered the susceptibility of tumor cells to CDDO-Me. These findings suggest that telomerase (hTERT) is a relevant target of CDDO-Me in pancreatic cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3576813  PMID: 22609405
CDDO-Me; Apoptosis; hTERT; Telomerase; Pancreatic cancer
15.  Synthetic Oleanane Triterpenoid, CDDO-Me, Induces Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells by Inhibiting Prosurvival AKT/NF-κB/mTOR Signaling 
Anticancer research  2011;31(11):3673-3681.
Synthetic oleanane triterpenoids are novel agents which have shown strong antitumorigenic activity against a wide range of cancer types in vitro. The objective of the present study was to determine the anticancer activity of methyl-2-cyano-3, 12-dioxooleana-1, 9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me) derived from CDDO, a synthetic analog of oleanolic acid, and its mechanism of action in killing of human ovarian cancer cells. CDDO-Me strongly inhibited the growth of ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis characterized by increased annexin V binding, cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) and procaspases-3, -8 and -9. In addition, CDDO-Me induced mitochondrial depolarization. Western blot analysis showed inhibition of prosurvival (antiapoptotic) phospho-AKT (p-AKT), nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) (p65) and phospho- mammalian target of rapamycin (p-mTOR) signaling proteins in cells treated with CDDO-Me. Abrogation of AKT which regulates both NF-κB and mTOR increased the sensitivity of tumor cells to CDDO-Me. Thus, these data showing strong growth-inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing activity of CDDO-Me for ovarian cancer cells through the inhibition of AKT/NF-κB/mTOR signaling pathway provide basis for evaluation of CDDO-Me for ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3711099  PMID: 22110186
Ovarian cancer; methyl-2-cyano-3; 12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me); apoptosis; AKT; NF-κB; mTOR
16.  The combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat and synthetic triterpenoids reduces tumorigenesis in mouse models of cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2012;34(1):199-210.
Novel drugs and drug combinations are needed for the chemoprevention and treatment of cancer. We show that the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat [suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA)] and the methyl ester or ethyl amide derivatives of the synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO-Me and CDDO-Ea, respectively) cooperated to inhibit the de novo synthesis of nitric oxide in RAW 264.7 macrophage-like cells and in primary mouse peritoneal macrophages. Additionally, SAHA enhanced the ability of synthetic triterpenoids to delay formation of estrogen receptor-negative mammary tumors in MMTV-polyoma middle T (PyMT) mice. CDDO-Me (50mg/kg diet) and SAHA (250mg/kg diet) each significantly delayed the initial development of tumors by 4 (P < 0.001) and 2 (P < 0.05) weeks, respectively, compared with the control group in the time required to reach 50% tumor incidence. CDDO-Ea (400mg/kg diet), as a single agent, did not delay tumor development. The combination of either triterpenoid with SAHA was significantly more potent than the individual drugs for delaying tumor development, with a 7 week (P < 0.001) delay before 50% tumor incidence was reached. SAHA, alone and in combination with CDDO-Me, also significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited the infiltration of tumor-associated macrophages into the mammary glands of PyMT mice and levels of the chemokine macrophage colony-stimulating factor in primary PyMT tumor cells. In addition, SAHA and the synthetic triterpenoids cooperated to suppress secreted levels of the pro-angiogenic factor matrix metalloproteinase-9. Similar results were observed in mouse models of pancreatic and lung cancer. At concentrations that were anti-inflammatory, SAHA had no effect on histone acetylation. These studies suggest that both SAHA and triterpenoids effectively delay tumorigenesis, thereby demonstrating a promising, novel drug combination for chemoprevention.
PMCID: PMC3534195  PMID: 23042302
17.  Human neuroblastoma cells rapidly enter cell cycle arrest and apoptosis following exposure to C-28 derivatives of the synthetic triterpenoid CDDO 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(5):709-717.
Synthetic triterpenoids, such as 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolean-1, 9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO) and its derivatives, are an extremely potent class of new anti-cancer therapeutic agents, characterized by high anti-tumor potency and low toxicity to normal tissues. This report is the first to investigate the effects of C-28 derivatives of CDDO on 22 pediatric solid tumor cell lines, including neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and Ewing's sarcoma. We determined IC50s in the range of 5–170 nM for inhibition of colony formation and DNA synthesis, and 110–630 nM for metabolic cell death and decrease in cell number, using the C-28 CDDO analogs, CDDO methyl ester (CDDO-Me), CDDO imidazolide (CDDO-Im), CDDO ethyl amide (CDDO-EA), CDDO trifluoroethyl amide (CDDO-TFEA), and CDDO diethylamide (CDDO-DE). After treatment of human neuroblastoma cells with CDDO-Me, cell cycle studies show depletion of the S-phase, while apoptosis studies show conformational activation and mitochondrial translocation of Bax protein, as well as activation of caspases -3 and -8. These data demonstrate the potential utility of CDDO analogs as promising novel therapeutic agents for high-risk pediatric solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC2727860  PMID: 18277094
triterpenoid; CDDO; Bax; apoptosis; neuroblastoma
18.  Role of Nrf2 in prevention of high-fat diet-induced obesity by synthetic triterpenoid CDDO-Imidazolide 
European journal of pharmacology  2009;620(1-3):138-144.
The synthetic oleanolic triterpenoid 1-[2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl]imidazole (CDDO-Imidazolide or CDDO-Im) is an extremely potent activator of Nrf2 signaling. In cells undergoing adipogenesis, CDDO-Im prevents lipid accumulation in an Nrf2-dependent manner. However, in vivo evidence for effects of CDDO-Im on obesity is lacking. The goals of these studies were to determine if CDDO-Im can prevent high-fat diet-induced obesogenesis in the mouse, and to elucidate the molecular target of drug action. Wild-type and Nrf2-disrupted C57BL/6J female mice were dosed 3 times per week with 30 μmol/kg CDDO-Im or vehicle by oral gavage, during 95 days of access to a control diet or a high-fat diet. Body weights, organ weights, hepatic fat accumulation and gene expression were measured. Treatment with CDDO-Im effectively prevented high-fat diet-induced increases in body weight, adipose mass, and hepatic lipid accumulation in wild-type mice but not in Nrf2-disrupted mice. Wild-type mice on a high-fat diet and treated with CDDO-Im exhibited higher oxygen consumption and energy expenditure than vehicle-treated mice, while food intake was lower in CDDO-Im-treated than vehicle-treated mice. Levels of gene transcripts for fatty acid synthesis enzymes were downregulated after CDDO-Im treatment in the liver of wild-type mice. This inhibitory effect of CDDO-Im on lipogenic gene expression was significantly reduced in Nrf2-disrupted mice. The results indicate that CDDO-Im is an exceedingly potent agent for preventing obesity, and identify the Nrf2 pathway as a novel target for management of obesogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2752754  PMID: 19698707
Nrf2; Diet-induced obesity; Fatty acid synthase; Triterpenoid
19.  Oleanane triterpenoid CDDO-Me induces apoptosis in multidrug resistant osteosarcoma cells through inhibition of Stat3 pathway 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:187.
The activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) pathway correlates with tumor growth, survival, drug resistance and poor prognosis in osteosarcoma. To explore the potential therapeutic values of this pathway, we assessed both the expression and the activation of Stat3 pathway in several pairs of multidrug resistant (MDR) osteosarcoma cell lines, and tissues. To explore the potential therapeutic values of this pathway, we analyzed the ability of the synthetic oleanane triterpenoid, C-28 methyl ester of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolen-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO-Me), to inhibit Stat3 expression and activation as well as its effects on doxorubicin sensitivity in osteosarcoma cells.
Expression of Stat3, phosphorylated Stat3 (pStat3) and Stat3 targeted proteins, including Bcl-XL, Survivin and MCL-1 were determined in drug sensitive and MDR osteosarcoma cell lines and tissues by Western blot analysis. The effect of CDDO-Me on osteosarcoma cell growth was evaluated by MTT and apoptosis by PARP cleavage assay and caspase-3/7 activity.
Stat3 pathway was activated in osteosarcoma tissues and in MDR cell lines. CDDO-Me inhibited growth and induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma cell lines. Treatment with CDDO-Me significantly decreased the level of nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of Stat3. The inhibition of Stat3 pathway correlated with the suppression of the anti-apoptotic Stat3 targeted genes Bcl-XL, survivin, and MCL-1. Furthermore, CDDO-Me increased the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin in the MDR osteosarcoma cell lines.
Stat3 pathway is overexpressed in MDR osteosarcoma cells. CDDO-Me significantly inhibited Stat3 phosphorylation, Stat3 nuclear translocation and induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma. This study provides the framework for the clinical evaluation of CDDO-Me, either as monotherapy or perhaps even more effectively in combination with doxorubicin to treat osteosarcoma and overcome drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC2874784  PMID: 20459702
20.  Inhibition of Telomerase Activity by Oleanane Triterpenoid CDDO-Me in Pancreatic Cancer Cells is ROS-Dependent 
Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)  2013;18(3):3250-3265.
Methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me) is a synthetic derivative of oleanolic acid, a triterpene, with apoptosis-inducing activity in a wide range of cancer cells. Induction of apoptosis by CDDO-Me is associated with the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibition of telomerase activity. In the present study, we investigated the role of ROS in inhibition of telomerase by CDDO-me. Treatment of MiaPaCa-2 and Panc-1 pancreatic cancer cell lines with CDDO-Me induced the production of hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anions and inhibited the telomerase activity. Pretreatment of cells with N-acetylcycsteine, a general purpose antioxidant or overexpression of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) or superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) blocked the telomerase inhibitory activity of CDDO-Me. Furthermore, blocking ROS generation also prevented the inhibition of hTERT gene expression, hTERT protein production and expression of a number of hTERT–regulatory proteins by CDDO-Me (e.g., c-Myc, Sp1, NF-κB and p-Akt). Data also showed that Akt plays an important role in the activation of telomerase activity. Together, these data suggest that inhibition of telomerase activity by CDDO-Me is mediated through a ROS-dependent mechanism; however, more work is needed to fully understand the role of ROS in down-regulation of hTERT gene and hTERT-regulatory proteins by CDDO-Me.
PMCID: PMC3632053  PMID: 23486104
pancreatic cancer; CDDO-Me; ROS; hTERT; telomerase activity
21.  Induction of Apoptosis in Pancreatic Cancer Cells by CDDO-Me Involves Repression of Telomerase through Epigenetic Pathways 
Reactivation of telomerase in cancers provides an attractive target for developing novel agents to selectively destroy tumor cells. Methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me), a synthetic oleanane triterpenoid, inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells at very low concentrations. The antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing effects of CDDO-Me were associated with the inhibition of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA, hTERT protein and reduction in hTERT telomerase activity. CDDO-Me inhibited multiple transcription factors that regulate hTERT expression positively (Sp1, c-Myc and NF-κB) and negatively (CTCF, E2F-1 and MAD1). CDDO-Me inhibited protein levels of DNA methyl transferases DNMT1 and DNMT3a, which also resulted in hypomethylation of hTERT promoter. In addition, transcriptionally active chromatin markers, such as acetylated histone H3 (Lys 9), acetylated histone H4, di-methyl H3 (Lys 4) and tri-methyl H3 (Lys 9) were all reduced in pancreatic cancer cells treated with CDDO-Me. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed decreased histone deacetylation and histone demethylation at hTERT promoter. Collectively, these results indicate that down-regulation of telomerase through epigenetic mechanisms plays a critical role in induction of apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells by CDDO-Me.
PMCID: PMC4139055  PMID: 25152840
CDDO-Me; Apoptosis; Telomerase; hTERT; Epigenetic control
22.  CDDO-Imidazolide inhibits growth and survival of c-Myc-induced mouse B cell and plasma cell neoplasms 
Molecular Cancer  2006;5:22.
Gene-targeted iMycEμ mice that carry a His6-tagged mouse Myc(c-myc)cDNA, MycHis, just 5' of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain enhancer, Eμ, are prone to B cell and plasma cell neoplasms, such as lymphoblastic B-cell lymphoma (LBL) and plasmacytoma (PCT). Cell lines derived from Myc-induced neoplasms of this sort may provide a good model system for the design and testing of new approaches to prevent and treat MYC-driven B cell and plasma cell neoplasms in human beings. To test this hypothesis, we used the LBL-derived cell line, iMycEμ-1, and the newly established PCT-derived cell line, iMycEμ-2, to evaluate the growth inhibitory and death inducing potency of the cancer drug candidate, CDDO-imidazolide (CDDO-Im).
Morphological features and surface marker expression of iMycEμ-2 cells were evaluated using cytological methods and FACS, respectively. mRNA expression levels of the inserted MycHis and normal Myc genes were determined by allele-specific RT-PCR and qPCR. Myc protein was detected by immunoblotting. Cell cycle progression and apoptosis were analyzed by FACS. The expression of 384 "pathway" genes was assessed with the help of Superarray© cDNA macroarrays and verified, in part, by RT-PCR.
Sub-micromolar concentrations of CDDO-Im caused growth arrest and apoptosis in iMycEμ-1 and iMycEμ-2 cells. CDDO-Im-dependent growth inhibition and apoptosis were associated in both cell lines with the up-regulation of 30 genes involved in apoptosis, cell cycling, NFκB signaling, and stress and toxicity responses. Strongly induced (≥10 fold) were genes encoding caspase 14, heme oxygenase 1 (Hmox1), flavin-containing monooxygenase 4 (Fmo4), and three members of the cytochrome P450 subfamily 2 of mixed-function oxygenases (Cyp2a4, Cyp2b9, Cyp2c29). CDDO-Im-dependent gene induction coincided with a decrease in Myc protein.
Growth arrest and killing of neoplastic mouse B cells and plasma cells by CDDO-Im, a closely related derivative of the synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid, appears to be caused, in part, by drug-induced stress responses and reduction of Myc.
PMCID: PMC1553469  PMID: 16759389
23.  Synthetic Triterpenoids Inhibit Growth, Induce Apoptosis and Suppress Pro-survival Akt, mTOR and NF-κB Signaling Proteins in Colorectal Cancer Cells 
Anticancer research  2010;30(3):785-792.
Lack of apoptotic cell death has been implicated in malignant transformation and resistance to anticancer therapies. The promotion of apoptosis in cancer cells could potentially lead to the regression and improved prognosis of refractory colorectal cancer. Synthetic triterpenoids have shown strong antitumorigenic activity towards diverse cancer cell types, but have not been investigated for colorectal cancer. In the present study, we tested the apoptosis-inducing activity of oleanane triterpenoid 2-cyano-3, 12-dioxooleana-1, 9(11)-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO) and its C-28 methyl ester (CDDO-Me) and C-28 imidazole (CDDO-Im) derivatives in colorectal cancer cells lines. Cell growth/viability assay (MTS) demonstrated that colorectal cancer cells are highly sensitive to CDDO-Me at concentrations of 1.25 to 10 μM. The primary mode of tumor cell destruction was apoptosis as demonstrated by the cleavage of PARP-1, activation of procaspases-3, -8, and -9 and mitochondrial depolarization. Induction of apoptosis by CDDO-Me was associated with the inhibition of pro-survival Akt, NF-κB and mTOR signaling proteins and NF-κB-regulated anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bad and survivin. These studies provide rationale for clinical evaluation of CDDO-Me for the treatment of advanced chemotherapy refractory colorectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3816511  PMID: 20392997
Synthetic triterpenoids; colorectal cancer; apoptosis; signaling proteins
24.  Glycyrrhizin Attenuates MPTP Neurotoxicity in Mouse and MPP+-Induced Cell Death in PC12 Cells 
The present study examined the inhibitory effect of licorice compounds glycyrrhizin and a metabolite 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on the neurotoxicity of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in the mouse and on the 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced cell death in differentiated PC12 cells. MPTP treatment increased the activities of total superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase and the levels of malondialdehyde and carbonyls in the brain compared to control mouse brain. Co-administration of glycyrrhizin (16.8 mg/kg) attenuated the MPTP effect on the enzyme activities and formation of tissue peroxidation products. In vitro assay, licorice compounds attenuated the MPP+-induced cell death and caspase-3 activation in PC12 cells. Glycyrrhizin up to 100µM significantly attenuated the toxicity of MPP+. Meanwhile, 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid showed a maximum inhibitory effect at 10µM; beyond this concentration the inhibitory effect declined. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid attenuated the hydrogen peroxide- or nitrogen species-induced cell death. Results from this study indicate that glycyrrhizin may attenuate brain tissue damage in mice treated with MPTP through inhibitory effect on oxidative tissue damage. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may reduce the MPP+ toxicity in PC12 cells by suppressing caspase-3 activation. The effect seems to be ascribed to the antioxidant effect.
PMCID: PMC2817536  PMID: 20157396
Glycyrrhizin; MPTP; MPP+; Brain tissue damage; Cell death; Inhibitory effect
25.  Interaction of Natural Dietary and Herbal Anionic Compounds and Flavonoids with Human Organic Anion Transporters 1 (SLC22A6), 3 (SLC22A8), and 4 (SLC22A11) 
Active components of complementary/alternative medicines and natural supplements are often anionic compounds and flavonoids. As such, organic anion transporters (OATs) may play a key role in their pharmacokinetic and pharmacological profiles, and represent sites for adverse drug-drug interactions. Therefore, we assessed the inhibitory effects of nine natural products, including flavonoids (catechin and epicatechin), chlorogenic acids (1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid), phenolic acids (ginkgolic acids (13 : 0), (15 : 1), and (17 : 1)), and the organic acids ursolic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid, on the transport activity of the human OATs, hOAT1 (SLC22A6), hOAT3 (SLC22A8), and hOAT4 (SLC22A11). Four compounds, 1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, ginkgolic acid (17 : 1), and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid, significantly inhibited hOAT1-mediated transport (50 μM inhibitor versus 1 μM substrate). Five compounds, 1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, ginkgolic acids (15 : 1) and (17 : 1), and epicatechin, significantly inhibited hOAT3 transport under similar conditions. Only catechin inhibited hOAT4. Dose-dependency studies were conducted for 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on hOAT1, and IC50 values were estimated as 1.2 ± 0.4 μM and 2.7 ± 0.2 μM, respectively. These data suggest that 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may cause significant hOAT1-mediated DDIs in vivo; potential should be considered for safety issues during use and in future drug development.
PMCID: PMC3618943  PMID: 23573138

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