Corosolic acid (CRA), a pentacyclic triterpene isolated from medicinal herbs, has been reported to exhibit anticancer properties in several cancers. However, the anticancer activity of CRA in osteosarcoma cells is still unclear. In the present study, the inhibitory effect of CRA in osteosarcoma MG-63 cells was investigated, and the results revealed that CRA significantly inhibited the viability of MG-63 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. A typical apoptotic hallmark such as DNA ladder was detected by agarose gel electrophoresis following treatment with CRA. Further experiments demonstrated that CRA induced apoptosis of MG-63 cells by flow cytometry using propidium iodide and annexin V staining. In addition, it was observed that the apoptosis of MG-63 cells induced by CRA was closely associated with activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, suggesting that CRA may trigger the activation of the mitochondria-mediated apoptosis pathway. In addition, the inhibition of caspase activity attenuated the CRA-induced apoptosis of MG-63 cells, which further confirmed the role of the mitochondrial pathway in CRA-induced apoptosis. These results indicated that CRA could induce the apoptosis of osteosarcoma cells through activating the mitochondrial pathway, which provides an evidence that CRA may be a useful chemotherapeutic agent for osteosarcoma.
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