Laminaria japonica, a brown seaweed, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat a variety of diseases including lung cancer.
To demonstrate the effects of Fucoxanthin (FX), a major active component extracted from Laminaria japonica on metastasis and Gefitinib (Gef) sensitivity in human lung cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo.
Invasion and migration of lung cancer cells were detected using the wound healing assay and transwell assay. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) factors and PI3K/AKT/NF-κB pathways were analyzed by western blotting. RNA interference (RNAi) technology was used to silence TIMP-2 gene expression in A549 cells. The anti-metastatic effect of FX was evaluated in vivo in an experimental lung metastatic tumor model. On the other hand, cell counting kit-8 assay was used to study the cell viability of human lung cancer PC9 cells and Gef resistant PC9 cells (PC9/G) after Gef, FX or FX combined with Gef treatment. PC9 xenograft model was established to explore the anti-tumor effect of FX or combined with Gef. Immunohistochemistry staining assay and immunofluorescence staining assay were used to reveal the effects of FX on lung cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis.
FX was able to significantly inhibit lung cancer cells migration and invasion in vitro. FX suppressed the expressions of Snail, Twist, Fibronectin, N-cadherin, MMP-2, PI3K, p-AKT and NF-κB, and increased the expression of TIMP-2. Furthermore, knockdown of TIMP-2 attenuated FX-mediated invasion inhibition. Additionally, we demonstrated that FX inhibited lung cancer cells metastasis in vivo. The anti-metastatic effects of FX on lung cancer cells might be attributed to inhibition of EMT and PI3K/AKT/NF-κB pathway. We further demonstrated that the anti-tumor activity of FX was not only limited to the drug sensitive cell lines, but also prominent on lung cancer cells with Gef resistant phenotype. Furthermore, in vivo xenograft assay confirmed that FX inhibited tumor growth and enhanced the sensitivity of lung cancer cells to Gef and this effect may be due to inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and activation of apoptosis.
Collectively, our findings suggested that FX suppresses metastasis of lung cancer cells and overcomes EGFR TKIs resistance. Thus, FX is worthy of further investigation as a drug candidate for the treatment of lung cancer.

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