T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive cancer with poor clinical outcome. Poricoic acid A (PAA) is the main chemical constituent on the surface layer of the mushroom Poria cocos, and exerts protective effects against various diseases. In the study, its effects on T-ALL progression were investigated both in vitro and in vivo. Our results showed that PAA strongly reduced the cell viability of T-ALL cell lines, and induced cell G2 cycle arrest and apoptosis in vitro. Mitochondrial dysfunction was also elevated by PAA, along with enhanced cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Importantly, PAA-suppressed cell viability and -triggered apoptosis were ROS-dependent. Additionally, autophagy was significantly induced by PAA in T-ALL cells through regulating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and LC3 signaling pathways. PAA treatments also provoked ferroptosis in T-ALL cells with reduced glutathione (GSH) levels and elevated malonaldehyde (MDA) contents. Suppressing autophagy and ferroptosis almost abrogated the capacity of PAA to restrain T-ALL proliferation and growth. The effects of PAA to suppress T-ALL tumor growth were also confirmed in vivo with undetectable toxicity. Therefore, the present study highlighted the potential of PAA for T-ALL treatment mainly through inducing autophagic cell death and ferroptosis.
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