Mol Carcinog. 2015 Jun;54(6):417-29. doi: 10.1002/mc.22110. Epub 2013 Nov 30. Withaferin A inhibits experimental epithelial-mesenchymal transition in MCF-10A cells and suppresses vimentin protein level in vivo in breast tumors.

Lee J1, Hahm ER, Marcus AI, Singh SV.

Author information

Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


We have shown previously that withaferin A (WA), a bioactive component of the medicinal plant Withania somnifera, inhibits growth of cultured and xenografted human breast cancer cells and prevents breast cancer development and pulmonary metastasis incidence in a transgenic mouse model. The present study was undertaken to determine if the anticancer effect of WA involved inhibition of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Experimental EMT induced by exposure of MCF-10A cells to tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β) was partially reversed by treatment with WA but not by its structural analogs withanone or withanolide A. Combined TNF-α and TGF-β treatments conferred partial protection against MCF-10A cell migration inhibition by WA. Inhibition of TNF-α and TGF-β-induced MCF-10A cell migration by WA exposure was modestly attenuated by knockdown of E-cadherin protein. MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells exposed to WA exhibited sustained (MCF-7) or transient (MDA-MB-231) induction of E-cadherin protein. On the other hand, the level of vimentin protein was increased markedly after 24 h treatment of MDA-MB-231 cells with WA. WA-induced apoptosis was not affected by vimentin protein knockdown in MDA-MB-231 cells. Protein level of vimentin was significantly lower in the MDA-MB-231 xenografts as well as in MMTV-neu tumors from WA-treated mice compared with controls. The major conclusions of the present study are that (a) WA treatment inhibits experimental EMT in MCF-10A cells, and (b) mammary cancer growth inhibition by WA administration is associated with suppression of vimentin protein expression in vivo.

EMT; breast cancer; vimentin; withaferin A

PMID:   24293234

PMCID:   PMC4039625

DOI:   10.1002/mc.22110

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s