Honokiol is known to suppress the growth of cancer cells; however, to date, its antiperitoneal dissemination effects have not been studied in an orthotopic mouse model. In the present study, we evaluated the antiperitoneal dissemination potential of Honokiol in an orthotopic mouse model and assessed associations with tumor growth factor-β1 (TGFβ1) and cells stimulated by a carcinogen, N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG). Our results demonstrate that tumor growth, peritoneal dissemination and peritoneum or organ metastasis of orthotopically implanted MKN45 cells were significantly decreased in Honokiol-treated mice and that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was induced. Honokiol-treated tumors showed increased epithelial signatures such as E-cadherin, cytokeratin-18 and ER stress marker. In contrast, decreased expression of vimentin, Snail and tumor progression locus 2 (Tpl2) was also noted. TGFβ1 and MNNG-induced downregulation of E-cadherin and upregulation of Tpl2 were abrogated by Honokiol treatment. The effect of Tpl2 inhibition in cancer cells or endothelial cells was associated with inactivation of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein B, nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cell and activator protein-1 and suppression of vascular endothelial growth factor. Inhibition of Tpl2 in gastric cancer cells by small interfering RNA or pharmacological inhibitor was found to effectively reduce growth ability and vessel density in vivo. Honokiol-induced reversal of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and ER stress-induced apoptosis via Tp12 may involve the paralleling processes. Taken together, our results suggest that the therapeutic inhibition of Tpl2 by Honokiol thwarts both gastric tumor growth and peritoneal dissemination by inducing ER stress and inhibiting EMT
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