Taraxasterol (TAX), one of the active components in Dandelion, demonstrated strong antitumor properties in several cancers. However, the effect and underlying mechanism of TAX in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is unclear. In this study, we showed that TAX inhibited the proliferation of cells by inducing S-phase cell cycle arrest and prevented cell migration by interfering epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in Lewis lung cancer (LLC) cells and lung carcinoma SPC-A1 cells. The pharmacological network analysis predicted that induction of apoptosis might be the potential mechanism of TAX-mediated cell deaths. Further in vitro experiments showed that TAX could significantly induce cancer cell apoptosis as verified by increased pro-apoptotic molecules including Bax, caspase-9, and PARP1 downregulated anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2; and decreased mitochondrial potential. The LLC subcutaneous tumor model demonstrated that TAX inhibited tumor growth by induction of apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation in vivo, which is consistent with the in vitro data. Importantly, TAX administration downregulated the proportion of Treg cells and upregulated CD107a+ NK cells in the tumor microenvironment in the tumor model. Together, these data reveal that TAX performs its antitumor effect by inducing apoptosis and modulating the tumor microenvironment, providing evidence that TAX could serve as a potential natural drug for lung cancer therapy.
- immune cells