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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 7126872, 13 pages
Research Article

Xylopine Induces Oxidative Stress and Causes G2/M Phase Arrest, Triggering Caspase-Mediated Apoptosis by p53-Independent Pathway in HCT116 Cells

1Gonçalo Moniz Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (IGM-FIOCRUZ/BA), Salvador, BA, Brazil
2Department of Chemistry, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristóvão, SE, Brazil
3Center of Biotechnology and Cell Therapy, Hospital São Rafael, 41253-190 Salvador, BA, Brazil
4Department of Chemistry, Federal University of Amazonas, Manaus, AM, Brazil

Correspondence should be addressed to Daniel Pereira Bezerra

Received 6 August 2017; Revised 12 September 2017; Accepted 20 September 2017; Published 6 December 2017

Academic Editor: Spencer Gibson

Copyright © 2017 Luciano de Souza Santos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Xylopine is an aporphine alkaloid that has cytotoxic activity to cancer cells. In this study, the underlying mechanism of xylopine cytotoxicity was assessed in human colon carcinoma HCT116 cells. Xylopine displayed potent cytotoxicity in different cancer cell lines in monolayer cultures and in a 3D model of cancer multicellular spheroids formed from HCT116 cells. Typical morphology of apoptosis, cell cycle arrest in the G2/M phase, increased internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, loss of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential, and increased phosphatidylserine externalization and caspase-3 activation were observed in xylopine-treated HCT116 cells. Moreover, pretreatment with a caspase-3 inhibitor (Z-DEVD-FMK), but not with a p53 inhibitor (cyclic pifithrin-α), reduced xylopine-induced apoptosis, indicating induction of caspase-mediated apoptosis by the p53-independent pathway. Treatment with xylopine also caused an increase in the production of reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (ROS/RNS), including hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide, but not superoxide anion, and reduced glutathione levels were decreased in xylopine-treated HCT116 cells. Application of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine reduced the ROS levels and xylopine-induced apoptosis, indicating activation of ROS-mediated apoptosis pathway. In conclusion, xylopine has potent cytotoxicity to different cancer cell lines and is able to induce oxidative stress and G2/M phase arrest, triggering caspase-mediated apoptosis by the p53-independent pathway in HCT116 cells.