Identification of a novel synthetic triterpenoid, methyl-2-cyano-3,12- dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oate, that potently induces caspase-mediated apoptosis in human lung cancer cells

Kevin B. Kim, Reuben Lotan, Ping Yue, Michael B. Sporn, Nanjoo Suh, Gordon W. Gribble, Tadashi Honda, Gen Sheng Wu, Waun Ki Hong, Shi Yong Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Therefore, new agents targeting prevention and treatment of lung cancer are urgently needed. In the present study, we demonstrate that a novel synthetic triterpenoid methyl-2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oate (CDDO-Me) is a potent inducer of apoptosis in human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells. The concentrations required for a 50% decrease in cell survival (IC50) ranged from 0.1 to 0.3 μM. CDDO-Me induced rapid apoptosis and triggered a series of effects associated with apoptosis including a rapid release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, activation of procaspase-9, -7, -6, and -3, and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and lamin A/C. Moreover, the caspase-3 inhibitor Z-DEVD-FMK and the pan caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK suppressed CDDO-Me-induced apoptosis. These results indicate that CDDO-Me induced apoptosis in human NSCLC cells via a cytochrome c-triggered caspase activation pathway. CDDO-Me did not alter the level of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL proteins, and no correlation was found between cell sensitivity to CDDO-Me and basal Bcl-2 expression level. Furthermore, overexpression of Bcl-2 did not protect cells from CDDO-Me-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that CDDO-Me induces apoptosis in NSCLC cells irrespective of Bcl-2 expression level. In addition, no correlation was found between cell sensitivity to CDDO-Me and p53 status, suggesting that CDDO-Me induce a p53-independent apoptosis. Our results demonstrate that CDDO-Me may be a good candidate for additional evaluation as a potential therapeutic agent for human lung cancers and possibly other types of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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