Synergistic effects of autophagy/mitophagy inhibitors and magnolol promote apoptosis and antitumor efficacy

Yancheng Tang, Liming Wang, Tao Yi, Jun Xu, Jigang Wang, Jiang Jiang Qin, Qilei Chen, Ka Man Yip, Yihang Pan, Peng Hong, Yingying Lu*, Han Ming Shen*, Hu Biao Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondria as a signaling platform play crucial roles in deciding cell fate. Many classic anticancer agents are known to trigger cell death through induction of mitochondrial damage. Mitophagy, one selective autophagy, is the key mitochondrial quality control that effectively removes damaged mitochondria. However, the precise roles of mitophagy in tumorigenesis and anticancer agent treatment remain largely unclear. Here, we examined the functional implication of mitophagy in the anticancer properties of magnolol, a natural product isolated from herbal Magnolia officinalis. First, we found that magnolol induces mitochondrial depolarization, causes excessive mitochondrial fragmentation, and increases mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS). Second, magnolol induces PTEN-induced putative kinase protein 1 (PINK1)‒Parkin-mediated mitophagy through regulating two positive feedforward amplification loops. Third, magnolol triggers cancer cell death and inhibits neuroblastoma tumor growth via the intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Moreover, magnolol prolongs the survival time of tumor-bearing mice. Finally, inhibition of mitophagy by PINK1/Parkin knockdown or using inhibitors targeting different autophagy/mitophagy stages significantly promotes magnolol-induced cell death and enhances magnolol's anticancer efficacy, both in vitro and in vivo. Altogether, our study demonstrates that magnolol can induce autophagy/mitophagy and apoptosis, whereas blockage of autophagy/mitophagy remarkably enhances the anticancer efficacy of magnolol, suggesting that targeting mitophagy may be a promising strategy to overcome chemoresistance and improve anticancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3966-3982
Number of pages17
JournalActa Pharmaceutica Sinica B
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Combination therapy
  • Magnolol
  • PINK1‒Parkin-mediated mitophagy
  • Tumor suppression


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