Neferine induces autophagy of human ovarian cancer cells via p38 MAPK/ JNK activation

Limei Xu, Xiyu Zhang, Yinuo Li, Shuhua Lu, Shan Lu, Jieyin Li, Yuqiong Wang, Xiaoxue Tian, Jian jun Wei, Changshun Shao, Zhaojian Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. Patients usually have poor prognosis because of late diagnosis, relapse, and chemoresistance. It is pressing to seek novel agent for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Neferine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the embryos of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). In this study, we investigated the antitumor effect of neferine on ovarian cancer cells. We found that neferine exhibited growth-inhibitory effect on human ovarian cancer cells, whereas showing less cytotoxic to non-malignant fallopian tube epithelial cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that neferine induced autophagy and inactivated the mTOR pathway. Finally, we found that both p38 MAPK and JNK signaling pathways were activated by neferine treatment and contributed to the induction of autophagy in ovarian cancer cells. In conclusion, our findings showed that neferine induced autophagy of human ovarian cancer cells via p38 MAPK/JNK activation. Neferine may be explored as a promising antitumoral agent in ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8721-8729
Number of pages9
JournalTumor Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Autophagy
  • JNK
  • Neferine
  • Ovarian cancer
  • p38 MAPK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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