Neferine isolated from Nelumbo nucifera enhances anti-cancer activities in Hep3B cells: Molecular mechanisms of cell cycle arrest, ER stress induced apoptosis and anti-angiogenic response
Yoon J-S, Kim H-M, Yadunandam AK, et al. Phytomedicine. 2013 doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2013.03.024.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most aggressive malignant diseases and is highly resistant to conventional chemotherapy. Neferine, a major bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid derived from the embryos of Nelumbo nucifera, has been reported a few physiological activities. However, the mechanisms of anticancer effects are not well understood and its detailed activities on Hep3B cells have not been determined.
Our results suggest that neferine exhibited cytotoxicity against HCC Hep3B cells, but not against HCC Sk-Hep1 and THLE-3, a normal human liver cell line. In addition, consistent with the induction of G1/S phase cell population in flow cytometry, downregulation of c-Myc, cyclin D1, D3, CDK4, E2F-1, as well as dephosphorlyation of cdc2 by western blot analysis, as evidenced by the appearance of cell cycle arrest, were observed in Hep3B cells treated with neferine.
Our results demonstrated neferine induced ER stress and apoptosis, acting through multiple signaling cascades by the activation of Bim, Bid, Bax, Bak, Puma, caspases-3, -6, -7, -8 and PARP, and the protein expression levels of Bip, calnexin, PDI, calpain-2 and caspase-12 were also upregulated dramatically by neferine treatment. Overexpression of GFP-LC3B by neferine resulted in a diffuse cytosolic GFP fluorescence and the strong fluorescent spots, representing autophagosomes. The significant reduction of the migration in Hep3B cells and the capillary tube-like formation of HUVECs by neferine were also determined. These observations reveal that the therapeutic potential of neferine in treating HCC Hep3B cells, containing copies of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genomes.

Neferine, an alkaloid ingredient in lotus seed embryo, inhibits proliferation of human osteosarcoma cells by promoting p38 MAPK-mediated p21 stabilization
Zhang Xy, Liu Zj, Xu B, et al. European Journal of Pharmacology. Volume 677, Issues 1–3, 29 February 2012, Pages 47–54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.12.035.

Identification of natural products that have antitumor activity is invaluable to the chemoprevention and therapy of cancer. The embryos of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) seeds are consumed in beverage in some parts of the world for their presumed health-benefiting effects. In this report we studied the effects of neferine, a major alkaloid component in lotus embryos, on human osteosarcoma cells and the underlying mechanisms.
We found that neferine possessed a potent growth-inhibitory effect on human osteosarcoma cells, but not on non-neoplastic human osteoblast cells. The inhibitory effect of neferine on human osteosarcoma cells was largely attributed to cell cycle arrest at G1. The induction of G1 arrest was p21WAF1/CIP1-dependent, but was independent of p53 or RB (retinoblastoma-associated protein). The up-regulation of p21 by neferine was due to an increase in the half-life of p21 protein.
We examined four kinases that are known to affect the stabilization of p21, and found that p38 MAPK and JNK were activated by neferine. However, only SB203580 (an inhibitor of p38), but not SP600125 (the inhibitor of JNK), can attenuate the up-regulation of p21 in response to neferine. Furthermore, the p21-stabilizing effect of neferine was abolished when p38 was silenced by RNA interference. Finally, we showed that neferine treatment led to an increased phosphorylation of p21 at Ser130 that was dependent on p38. Our results for the first time showed a direct antitumor effect of neferine, suggesting that consumption of neferine may have cancer-preventive and cancer-therapeutic benefit.

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