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Open Access Research article

Essential oil of Pinus koraiensis inhibits cell proliferation and migration via inhibition of p21-activated kinase 1 pathway in HCT116 colorectal cancer cells

Sun-Mi Cho, Eun-Ok Lee, Sung-Hoon Kim and Hyo-Jeong Lee*

Author Affiliations

Cancer Preventive Material Development Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, 130-701 Seoul, Republic of Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:275  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-275

Published: 30 July 2014

Abstract

Background

The essential oil of Pinus koraiensis (EOPK) is biologically active compound obtained from the leaves of P. koraiensis. The goal of this study was to investigate the anti-cancer mechanism of EOPK in HCT116 colorectal cancer cells.

Methods

HCT116 cell proliferation was assessed by conducting crystal violet and BrdU assays. To assess the effects of EOPK on cell migration, we performed a wound-healing assay. Further, the contribution of PAK1 to EOPK-induced AKT and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) suppression was assessed by siRNA-mediated PAK1 knockdown. Changes to the expression and phosphorylation of PAK1 and its effectors were determined by western blotting, and changes to the actin cytoskeleton were determined by performing an immunofluorescence assay.

Results

EOPK significantly decreased HCT116 cell proliferation and migration, and induced G1 arrest without affecting normal cells. Additionally, EOPK suppressed the expression of PAK1, and decreased ERK and AKT phosphorylation in HCT116 cells. Finally, EOPK suppressed β-catenin, cyclin D1, and CDK4/6 expression.

Conclusions

Our studies indicate that EOPK significantly reduced proliferation and migration of colorectal cancer cells. Furthermore, EOPK suppressed PAK1 expression in a dose-dependent manner, and this suppression of PAK1 led to inhibition of ERK, AKT, and β-catenin activities. Our findings suggest that EOPK exerts its anticancer activity via the inhibition of PAK1 expression, suggesting it may be a potent chemotherapeutic agent for colorectal cancer.

Keywords:
EOPK; PAK1; Colorectal cancer; Proliferation; Migration