Induction of human leukemia HL-60 cell differentiation via a PKC/ERK pathway by helenalin, a pseudoguainolide sesquiterpene lactone

Seung H. Kim, Sang M. Oh, Tae S. Kim

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Helenalin, a cell-permeable pseudoguainolide sesquiterpene lactone, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) DNA binding activity. In this report, we investigated the effect of helenalin on cellular differentiation in the human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cell culture system. Helenalin by itself markedly induced HL-60 cell differentiation in a concentration-dependent manner. Cytofluorometric analysis and cell morphologic studies indicated that helenalin induced cell differentiation predominantly into granulocytes. Protein kinase C (PKC) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibitors significantly inhibited HL-60 cell differentiation induced by helenalin, while p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors did not. Moreover, helenalin enhanced PKC activity and protein level of PKCβI and PKCβII isoforms, and also increased the level of pERK in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, the enhanced levels of cell differentiation closely correlated with the decreased levels of NF-κB binding activity by helenalin. These results indicate that PKC, ERK, and NF-κB may be involved in HL-60 cell differentiation induced by helenalin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Mar 28



  • Cell differentiation
  • Extracellular signal-regulated kinase
  • Helenalin
  • Nuclear factor-κB
  • Protein kinase C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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