Cucurbitacin B inhibits breast cancer metastasis and angiogenesis through VEGF-mediated suppression of FAK/MMP-9 signaling axis

Sonam Sinha, Sajid Khan, Samriddhi Shukla, Amar Deep Lakra, Sudhir Kumar, Gunjan Das, Rakesh Maurya, Syed Musthapa Meeran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Available breast cancer therapeutic strategies largely target the primary tumor but are ineffective against tumor metastasis and angiogenesis. In our current study, we determined the effect of Cucurbitacin B (CuB), a plant triterpenoid, on the metastatic and angiogenic potential of breast cancer cells. CuB was found to inhibit cellular proliferation and induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Further, CuB-treatment significantly inhibited the migratory and invasive potential of highly metastatic breast cancer MDA-MB-231 and 4T1 cells at sub-IC50 concentrations, where no significant apoptosis was observed. CuB was also found to inhibit migratory, invasive and tube-forming capacities of HUVECs in vitro. In addition, inhibition of pre-existing vasculature in chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane ex vivo further supports the anti-angiogenic effect of CuB. CuB-mediated anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenic effects were associated with the downregulation of VEGF/FAK/MMP-9 signaling, which has been validated by using FAK-inhibitor (FI-14). CuB-treatment resulted in a significant inhibition of VEGF-induced phosphorylation of FAK and MMP-9 expressions similar to the action of FI-14. CuB was also found to decrease the micro-vessel density as evidenced by the decreased expression of CD31, a marker for neovasculature. Further, CuB-treatment inhibited tumor growth, lung metastasis and angiogenesis in a highly metastatic 4T1-syngeneic mouse mammary cancer. Collectively, our findings suggest that CuB inhibited breast cancer metastasis and angiogenesis, at least in part, through the downregulation of VEGF/FAK/MMP-9 signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cucurbitacin B
  • Invasion
  • Metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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