Plumbagin elicits cell-specific cytotoxic effects and metabolic responses in melanoma cells

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3 Scopus citations


Melanoma is one of the most malignant skin cancers that require comprehensive therapies, including chemotherapy. A plant-derived drug, plumbagin (PLB), exhibits an anticancer property in several cancers. We compared the cytotoxic and metabolic roles of PLB in A375 and SK-MEL-28 cells, each with different aggressiveness. In our results, they were observed to have distinctive mitochondrial respiratory functions. The primary reactive oxygen species (ROS) source of A375 can be robustly attenuated by cell membrane permeabilization. A375 cell viability and proliferation, migration, and apoptosis induction are more sensitive to PLB treatment. PLB induced metabolic alternations in SK-MEL-28 cells, which included increasing mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), mitochondrial ATP production, and mitochondrial mass. Decreasing mitochondrial OXPHOS and total ATP production with elevated mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) were observed in PLB-induced A375 cells. PLB also induced ROS production and increased proton leak and non-mitochondria respiration in both cells. This study reveals the relationship between metabolism and cytotoxic effects of PLB in melanoma. PLB displays stronger cytotoxic effects on A375 cells, which exhibit lower respiratory function than SK-MEL-28 cells with higher respiratory function, and triggers cell-specific metabolic changes in accordance with its cytotoxic effects. These findings indicate that PLB might serve as a promising anticancer drug, targeting metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number706
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 12 2021


  • Cytotoxic effect
  • Melanoma
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Plumbagin
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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