Aberrant expression of thioredoxin 1 (Trx1) plays an important role in cancer initiation and progression and has gained attention as an anticancer drug target. Here we report that the recently discovered natural diterpenoid isoforretin A (IsoA) significantly inhibits Trx1 activity and mediates anticancer effects in multiple preclinical settings. The inhibitory effect of IsoA was antagonized by free radical scavengers polyethylene glycol-catalase, polyethylene glycol superoxide dismutase, thiol-based antioxidants N-acetylcysteine and glutathione. Mass spectrometry analysis revealed that the mechanism of action was based on direct conjugation of IsoA to the Cys32/Cys35 residues of Trx1. This conjugation event attenuated reversible thiol reduction of Trx1, leading to ROS accumulation and a broader degradation of thiol redox homeostasis in cancer cells. Extending these in vitro findings, we documented that IsoA administration inhibited the growth of HepG2 tumors in a murine xenograft model of hepatocellular carcinoma. Taken together, our findings highlight IsoA as a potent bioactive inhibitor of Trx1 and a candidate anticancer natural product. Cancer Res; 77(4); 926–36. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
X. Sun and W. Wang are the co-first authors of this article.
- Received April 10, 2016.
- Revision received November 9, 2016.
- Accepted November 16, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.