Inhibition of osteosarcoma cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in vivo in mice model by alstonine through AMPK-activation and PGC-1α/TFAM up-regulation

  • Qin Yan Cancer Prevention and Treatment Institute of Chengdu, Department of Oncology, Chengdu Fifth People’s Hospital (The Second Clinical Medical College, Affiliated Fifth People’s Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine), Chengdu, 611137, China
  • Jianfeng Jiang Department of Orthopedics, Haian traditional Chinese Medical Hospital, Haian Jiangsu, 226600, China
  • Jingbo Xie Department of Orthopedics, Fengcheng People’s Hospital, Jiangxi Fengcheng, 331100, China
  • Shengbo Jiang Department of Joint Surgery, The First People’s Hospital of Lianyungang, Jiangsu Lianyungang, 222000, China
  • Yunting Bai Department of Orthopaedics, The Fifth People’s Hospital of Jinan, Shandong Jinan, 250022, China


Osteosarcoma, a leading malignant tumor of bones is diagnosed mostly in adolescents and young adults worldwide. The present study investigated alstonine as anti-osteosarcoma agent in vitro as well as in vivo and evaluated the underlying mechanism. Treatment with alstonine led to a significant (P<0.05) reduction in MG63 and U-2OS cell viability. Alstonine treatment of MG63 and U-2OS cells caused a significant reduction in colony formation compared to the control cells. Viability of osteoblasts was not affected by alstonine treatment in 1.25 to 20 µM concentration range. In alstonine treated MG63 and U-2OS cells apoptotic cells increased significantly (P<0.05) compared to the control cells. Moreover, in MG63 and U-2OS cells treatment with alstonine caused a prominent increase in expression of cleaved caspase-9, caspase-3, and PARP. Treatment of MG63 and U-2OS cells with alstonine caused a prominent increase in AMPKα (Thr172) phosphorylation and elevated the count of mtDNA copies compared to the untreated cells. Alstonine treatment of the cells caused a remarkable increase in expression of PGC-1α and TFAM proteins. Treatment of the mice with alstonine at 5 and 10 mg/kg doses for 30 days caused a significant (P<0.05) reduction in xenograft growth. Expression of PGC-1α and TFAM proteins in tumor tissues of the mice treated with alstonine was significantly (P<0.05) raised compared to the control group. Thus, alstonine inhibits osteosarcoma cell growth and activates apoptosis through AMPK dependent pathway. Therefore, alstonine may be considered for treatment of osteosarcoma as it effectively arrests tumor growth in mice.