Evaluation of anti-tumour properties of two depsidones – Unguinol and Aspergillusidone D – in triple-negative MDA-MB-231 breast tumour cells

A. Zwartsen*, S. Chottanapund, P. Kittakoop, P. Navasumrit, M. Ruchirawat, M. B.M. Van Duursen, M. Van den Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is an ongoing search for new compounds to lower the mortality and recurrence of breast cancer, especially triple-negative breast cancer. Naturally occurring depsidones, extracted from the fungus Aspergillus, are known for their wide range of biological activities such as cytotoxicity, aromatase inhibition, radical scavenging, and antioxidant properties. Research showed the potential of depsidones as a treatment option for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer treatment, yet its effects on hormone receptor-negative breast cancer are still unkown. This study, therefore, investigated the potential of two depsidones (Unguinol and Aspergillusidone D) to induce apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and cytotoxicity, and reduce cell proliferation in the triple-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line. Results were compared with the effects of the cytostatic drug doxorubicin, antimitotic agent colchicine and endogenous hormones 17β-estradiol, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. The cytostatic drugs and hormones affected the MDA-MB-231 cell line comparable to other studies, showing the usefulness of this model to study the effects of depsidones on a triple-negative breast cancer cell line. At sub μM levels, Unguinol and Aspergillusidone D did not influence cell proliferation, while cell viability was reduced at concentrations higher than 50 μM. Both depsidones induced apoptosis, albeit not statistically significantly. In addition, Unguinol induced cell cycle arrest in MDA-MB-231 cells at 100 μM. Our research shows the potential of two depsidones to reduce triple-negative breast cancer cell survival. Therefore, this group of compounds may be promising in the search for new cancer treatments, especially when looking at similar depsidones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1222
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Depsidones
  • Hormone receptor negative breast cancer
  • In vitro


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