S-20, a steroidal saponin from the berries of black nightshade, exerts anti-multidrug resistance activity in K562/ADR cells through autophagic cell death and ERK activation
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major cause of chemotherapy failure. Adriamycin (ADR) has been widely used to treat cancer, however, as a substrate of the adenosine triphosphate binding cassette (ABC) transporter, it is easy to develop drug resistance during the treatment. Here, we demonstrated that steroidal saponin S-20 isolated from the berries of black nightshade has comparable cytotoxicity in ADR-sensitive and resistant K562 cell lines. Autophagy is generally considered to be a protective mechanism to mediate MDR during treatment. However, we found that S-20-induced cell death in K562/ADR is associated with autophagy. We further explored the underlying mechanisms and found that S-20 induces caspase-dependent apoptosis in ADR-sensitive and resistant K562 cell lines. Most importantly, S-20-induced autophagy activates the ERK pathway and then inhibits the expression of drug resistance protein, which is the main reason to overcome K562/ADR resistance, rather than apoptosis. Taken together, our findings emphasize that S-20 exerts anti-multidrug resistance activity in K562/ADR cells through autophagic cell death and ERK activation, which may be considered as an effective strategy.