Ursolic acid and resveratrol synergize with chloroquine to reduce melanoma cell viability

Jacob J. Junco, Anna Mancha-Ramirez, Gunjan Malik, Sung Jen Wei, Dae Joon Kim, Huiyun Liang, Thomas J. Slaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Malignant melanoma is associated with a 5-year survival rate of less than 20% once metastasized. Malignant melanoma cells exhibit increased levels of autophagy, a process of intracellular digestion that allows cells to survive various stresses including chemotherapies, resulting in reduced patient survival. Autophagy can be inhibited by chemicals like chloroquine (CQ), which prevents fusion of autophagosomes to lysosomes, resulting in autophagosome accumulation in most systems. Here, we describe how tested CQ to see whether it could sensitize B16F10 metastatic mouse melanoma cells to the anticancer activities of the natural compounds ursolic acid (UA) and resveratrol (RES). CQ with UA or RES strongly and synergistically reduced the viability of B16F10 mouse melanoma and A375 human melanoma cells. Surprisingly, flow cytometry of acridine orange-stained cells showed that UA or RES in combination with CQ significantly reduced autophagosome levels. Western blotting analysis revealed that CQ plus UA or RES paradoxically increased LC3II, indicative of autophagosome accumulation. In addition, CQ plus RES synergistically decreased the levels of both autophagy initiator beclin-1 and autophagy supporter p62. These results indicate that CQ with UA or RES strongly and synergistically reduces the viability of B16F10 and A375 melanoma cells. However, studies on B16F10 cells have shown that the synergistic effect was not mediated by inhibition of autophagy induced by UA or RES. These compounds are well-tolerated in humans, and CQ has shown promise as an adjuvant therapy. These combinations may be valuable treatment strategies for melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalMelanoma Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015


  • Autophagy
  • Chloroquine
  • Melanoma
  • Phytonutrients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Dermatology
  • Cancer Research


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