Targeting mitophagy to promote apoptosis is a potential therapeutic strategy for cancer

Yancheng Tang, Liming Wang, Jiangjiang Qin, Yingying Lu, Han Ming Shen*, Hu Biao Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Many anticancer agents exert cytotoxicity and trigger apoptosis through the induction of mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitophagy, as a key mitochondrial quality control mechanism, can remove damaged mitochondria in an effective and timely manner, which may result in drug resistance. Although the implication of mitophagy in neurodegenerative diseases has been extensively studied, the role and mechanism of mitophagy in tumorigenesis and cancer therapy are largely unknown. In a recent study, we found that the inhibition of PINK1-PRKN-mediated mitophagy can significantly enhance the anticancer efficacy of magnolol, a natural product with potential anticancer properties. On the one hand, magnolol can induce severe mitochondrial dysfunction, including mitochondrial depolarization, excessive mitochondrial fragmentation and the generation of mitochondrial ROS, leading to apoptosis. On the other hand, magnolol induces PINK1-PRKN-dependent mitophagy via activation of two rounds of feedforward amplification loops. The blockage of mitophagy through genetic or pharmacological approaches promotes rather than attenuates magnolol-induced cell death. Furthermore, inhibition of mitophagy by using distinct inhibitors targeting different mitophagic stages effectively enhances magnolol’s anticancer efficacy in vivo. Taken together, our findings strongly indicate that manipulation of mitophagy in cancer treatment will be a promising therapeutic strategy for overcoming cancer drug resistance and improving the therapeutic efficacy of anticancer agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1033
Number of pages3
Issue number3
Early online date22 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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