Oncol Rep 2013 Jul 26;30(1):506-12. Epub 2013 Apr 26.
Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Keimyung University, Dalseo-Gu, Daegu, Republic of Korea.
RU486 (mifepristone) exerts an anticancer effect on cancer cells via induction of apoptosis. However, the molecular mechanisms are not fully understood. Here, we investigated the effect of RU486 on the apoptosis of U937 human leukemia cells. RU486 markedly increased apoptosis in U937 cells as well as in MDA231 human breast carcinoma, A549 human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial and HCT116 human colorectal carcinoma cells. RU486 increased dose-dependent release of mitochondrial cytochrome c, and reduced the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP, Δψm) in RU486-treated U937 cells. We also found that overexpression of Bcl-2 completely blocked RU486-mediated apoptosis. However, reactive oxygen species signaling had no effect on RU486-induced apoptosis. RU486 increased the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and JNK, but p38 MAPK only was associated with RU486-mediated apoptosis. Taken together, RU486 induces apoptosis through reduction in the mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of p38 MAPK in U937 human leukemia cells.