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1.  Betulinic Acid Derivatives NVX-207 and B10 for Treatment of Glioblastoma—An in Vitro Study of Cytotoxicity and Radiosensitization 
Betulinic acid (BA), a pentacyclic triterpene, represents a new therapeutic substance that has potential benefits for treating glioblastoma. Recently, new strategies for producing BA derivatives with improved properties have evolved. However, few studies have examined the combination of BA or BA derivatives using radiotherapy. The effects of two BA derivatives, NVX-207 and B10, on cellular and radiobiological behavior were analyzed using glioblastoma cell lines (U251MG, U343MG and LN229). Based on IC50 values under normoxic conditions, we detected a 1.3–2.9-fold higher cytotoxicity of the BA derivatives B10 and NVX-207, respectively, compared to BA. Incubation using both BA derivatives led to decreased cell migration, cleavage of PARP and decreased protein expression levels of Survivin. Weak radiation sensitivity enhancement was observed in U251MG cells after treatment with both BA derivatives. The enhancement factors at an irradiation dose of 6 Gy after treatment with 5 µM NVX-207 and 5 µM B10 were 1.32 (p = 0.029) and 1.55 (p = 0.002), respectively. In contrast to BA, neither NVX-207 nor B10 had additional effects under hypoxic conditions. Our results suggest that the BA derivatives NVX-207 and B10 improve the effects of radiotherapy on human malignant glioma cells, particularly under normoxic conditions.
PMCID: PMC4264138  PMID: 25361208
betulinic acid derivatives; glioma; cytotoxicity; irradiation; normoxia; hypoxia
2.  Hypoxia Enhances the Antiglioma Cytotoxicity of B10, a Glycosylated Derivative of Betulinic Acid 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94921.
B10 is a glycosylated derivative of betulinic acid with promising activity against glioma cells. Lysosomal cell death pathways appear to be essential for its cytotoxicity. We investigated the influence of hypoxia, nutrient deprivation and current standard therapies on B10 cytotoxicity. The human glioma cell lines LN-308 and LNT-229 were exposed to B10 alone or together with irradiation, temozolomide, nutrient deprivation or hypoxia. Cell growth and viability were evaluated by crystal violet staining, clonogenicity assays, propidium iodide uptake and LDH release assays. Cell death was examined using an inhibitor of lysosomal acidification (bafilomycin A1), a cathepsin inhibitor (CA074-Me) and a short-hairpin RNA targeting cathepsin B. Hypoxia substantially enhanced B10-induced cell death. This effect was sensitive to bafilomycin A1 and thus dependent on hypoxia-induced lysosomal acidification. Cathepsin B appeared to mediate cell death because either the inhibitor CA074-Me or cathepsin B gene silencing rescued glioma cells from B10 toxicity under hypoxia. B10 is a novel antitumor agent with substantially enhanced cytotoxicity under hypoxia conferred by increased lysosomal cell death pathway activation. Given the importance of hypoxia for therapy resistance, malignant progression, and as a result of antiangiogenic therapies, B10 might be a promising strategy for hypoxic tumors like malignant glioma.
PMCID: PMC3990545  PMID: 24743710
3.  Betulinic acid regulates generation of neuroinflammatory mediators responsible for tissue destruction in multiple sclerosis in vitro 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2013;34(3):424-431.
To investigate the influences of betulinic acid (BA), a triterpenoid isolated from birch bark, on neuroinflammatory mediators involved in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in vitro.
Encephalitogenic T cells were prepared from draining lymph nodes and spinal cords of Dark Agouti rats 8 to 10 d after immunization with myelin basic protein (MBP) and complete Freund's adjuvant. Macrophages were isolated from the peritoneal cavity of adult untreated rats. Astrocytes were isolated from neonatal rat brains. The cells were cultured and then treated with different agents. IFN-γ, IL-17, iNOS and CXCL12 mRNA levels in the cells were analyzed with RT-PCR. iNOS and CXCL12 protein levels were detected using immunoblot. NO and ROS generation was measured using Griess reaction and flow cytometry, respectively.
In encephalitogenic T cells stimulated with MBP (10 μg/mL), addition of BA inhibited IL-17 and IFN-γ production in a dose-dependent manner. The estimated IC50 values for IL-17 and IFN γ were 11.2 and 63.8 μmol/L, respectively. When the macrophages were stimulated with LPS (10 ng/mL), addition of BA (50 μmol/L) significantly increased ROS generation, and suppressed NO generation. The astrocytes were stimulated with ConASn containing numerous inflammatory mediators, which mimicked the inflammatory milieu within CNS; addition of BA (50 μmol/L) significantly increased ROS generation, and blocked ConASn-induced increases in iNOS and CXCL12 mRNA levels, but did not affect iNOS and CXCL12 protein levels. Importantly, in both the macrophages and astrocytes, addition of BA (50 μmol/L) inhibited lipid peroxidation.
Besides inhibiting encephalitogenic T cell cytokines and reducing NO generation, BA induces tissue-damaging ROS generation within CNS.
PMCID: PMC4002495  PMID: 23377550
betulinic acid; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; multiple sclerosis; neuroinflammation; T cell; macrophage; astrocyte; cytokines; NO; ROS; CXCL12
5.  Increased betulinic acid induced cytotoxicity and radiosensitivity in glioma cells under hypoxic conditions 
Betulinic acid (BA) is a novel antineoplastic agent under evaluation for tumor therapy. Because of the selective cytotoxic effects of BA in tumor cells (including gliomas), the combination of this agent with conservative therapies (such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy) may be useful. Previously, the combination of BA with irradiation under hypoxic conditions had never been studied.
In this study, the effects of 3 to 30 μM BA on cytotoxicity, migration, the protein expression of PARP, survivin and HIF-1α, as well as radiosensitivity under normoxic and hypoxic conditions were analyzed in the human malignant glioma cell lines U251MG and U343MG. Cytotoxicity and radiosensitivity were analyzed with clonogenic survival assays, migration was analyzed with Boyden chamber assays (or scratch assays) and protein expression was examined with Western blot analyses.
Under normoxic conditions, a half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 23 μM was observed in U251MG cells and 24 μM was observed in U343MG cells. Under hypoxic conditions, 10 μM or 15 μM of BA showed a significantly increased cytotoxicity in U251MG cells (p = 0.004 and p = 0.01, respectively) and U343MG cells (p < 0.05 and p = 0.01, respectively). The combination of BA with radiotherapy resulted in an additive effect in the U343MG cell line under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Weak radiation enhancement was observed in U251MG cell line after treatment with BA under normoxic conditions. Furthermore, under hypoxic conditions, the incubation with BA resulted in increased radiation enhancement. The enhancement factor, at an irradiation dose of 15 Gy after treatment with 10 or 15 μM BA, was 2.20 (p = 0.02) and 4.50 (p = 0.03), respectively. Incubation with BA led to decreased cell migration, cleavage of PARP and decreased expression levels of survivin in both cell lines. Additionally, BA treatment resulted in a reduction of HIF-1α protein under hypoxic conditions.
Our results suggest that BA is capable of improving the effects of tumor therapy in human malignant glioma cells, particularly under hypoxic conditions. Further investigations are necessary to characterize its potential as a radiosensitizer.
PMCID: PMC3182903  PMID: 21906280
betulinc acid; glioma cells; hypoxia; irradiation

Results 1-5 (5)