Intest Res.  2019 Oct;17(4):527-536. 10.5217/ir.2019.00031.

Parthenolide inhibits transforming growth factor β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in colorectal cancer cells

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Research Institute of Clinical Medicine of Chonbuk National University, and Biomedical Research Institute, Chonbuk National University Hospital, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea.


Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is one of the mechanisms by which colorectal cancer (CRC) cells acquire migratory and invasive capacities, and subsequently metastasize. Parthenolide (PT) expresses multiple anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activities that inhibit nuclear factor κB by targeting the IκB kinase complex. In the present study, we aimed to investigate whether PT can inhibit TGF-β1-induced EMT in CRC cell lines.
HT-29 and SW480 cell lines were used in the experiment. Cell viability was detected by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay and sub-G1 analysis was measured by flow cytometry. The induction of EMT by TGF-β1 and inhibition of the process by PT was analyzed by phase contrast microscopy, wounding healing, cellular migration and invasion assays, and Western blotting.
TGF-β1 inhibits HT-29 cell proliferation, but has no effect on SW480 cell proliferation; different concentrations of TGF-β1 did not induce apoptosis in HT-29 and SW480 cells. PT attenuates TGF-β1-induced elongated, fibroblast-like shape changing in cells. PT inhibits TGF-β1-induced cell migration and cell invasion. In addition, other EMT markers such as β-catenin, Vimentin, Snail, and Slug were suppressed by PT, while E-cadherin was increased by PT.
Our findings show that PT inhibits TGF-β1-induced EMT by suppressing the expression of the mesenchymal protein and increasing expression of the epithelial protein. These findings suggest a novel approach for CRC treatment by suppression of TGF-β1-induced EMT.


Transforming growth factor beta 1; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Parthenolide; Colorectal neoplasms
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