Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Oridonin induces apoptosis and senescence in colorectal cancer cells by increasing histone hyperacetylation and regulation of p16, p21, p27 and c-myc

Feng-Hou Gao1, Xiao-Hui Hu1, Wei Li3, Hua Liu4, Yan-Jie Zhang1, Zhu-Ying Guo1, Mang-Hua Xu1, Shi-Ting Wang1, Bin Jiang1, Feng Liu1, Ying-Zheng Zhao3, Yong Fang1, Fang-Yuan Chen5 and Ying-Li Wu2*

Author Affiliations

1 NO.3 People's Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine (SJTU-SM), Shanghai 201900, PR China

2 Dept. of Pathophysiology, Key Laboratory of Cell Differentiation and Apoptosis of National Ministry of Education, Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine (SJTU-SM), Shanghai 200025, PR China

3 Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics, School of Life Sciences, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, PR China

4 Department of Gastroenterology, The tenth Hospital Affiliated to Tongji University, Shanghai, PR China

5 Renji Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine (SJTU-SM), Shanghai 201900, PR China

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:610  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-610

Published: 6 November 2010



Oridonin, a tetracycline diterpenoid compound, has the potential antitumor activities. Here, we evaluate the antitumor activity and action mechanisms of oridonin in colorectal cancer.


Effects of oridonin on cell proliferation were determined by using a CCK-8 Kit. Cell cycle distribution was determined by flow cytometry. Apoptosis was examined by analyzing subdiploid population and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay. Senescent cells were determined by senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity analysis. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR was used to examine the changes of mRNA of p16, p21, p27 and c-myc. The concomitant changes of protein expression were analyzed with Western blot. Expression of AcH3 and AcH4 were examined by immunofluorescence staining and Western blots. Effects of oridonin on colony formation of SW1116 were examined by Soft Agar assay. The in vivo efficacy of oridonin was detected using a xenograft colorectal cancer model in nude mice.


Oridonin induced potent growth inhibition, cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, senescence and colony-forming inhibition in three colorectal cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. Daily i.p. injection of oridonin (6.25, 12.5 or 25 mg/kg) for 28 days significantly inhibited the growth of SW1116 s.c. xenografts in BABL/C nude mice. With western blot and reverse transcription-PCR, we further showed that the antitumor activities of oridonin correlated with induction of histone (H3 and H4) hyperacetylation, activation of p21, p27 and p16, and suppression of c-myc expression.


Oridonin possesses potent in vitro and in vivo anti-colorectal cancer activities that correlated with induction of histone hyperacetylation and regulation of pathways critical for maintaining growth inhibition and cell cycle arrest. Therefore, oridonin may represent a novel therapeutic option in colorectal cancer treatment.