Demethyl fruticulin A (SCO-1) causes apoptosis by inducing reactive oxygen species in mitochondria

Massimiliano Monticone, Angela Bisio, Antonio Daga, Paolo Giannoni, Walter Giaretti, Massimo Maffei, Ulrich Pfeffer, Francesco Romeo, Rodolfo Quarto, Giovanni Romussi, Giorgio Corte, Patrizio Castagnola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Demethyl fruticulin A (SCO-1) is a compound found in Salvia corrugata leaves. SCO-1 was reported to induce anoikis in cell lines via the membrane scavenging receptor CD36. However, experiments performed with cells lacking CD36 showed that SCO-1 was able to induce apoptosis also via alternative pathways. To gain some insight into the biological processes elicited by this compound, we undertook an unbiased genomic approach. Upon exposure of glioblastoma tumor initiating cells (GBM TICs) to SCO-1 for 24 h, we observed a deregulation of the genes belonging to the glutathione metabolism pathway and of those belonging to the biological processes related to the response to stress and to chemical stimulus. On this basis, we hypothesized that the SCO-1 killing effect could result from the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the mitochondria. This hypothesis was confirmed by flow cytometry using MitoSOX, a mitochondria-selective fluorescent reporter of ROS, and by the ability of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) to inhibit apoptosis when co-administered with SOC-1 to the GBM TICs. We further show that NAC also protects other cell types such as HeLa, MG-63, and COS-7 from apoptosis. We therefore propose that ROS production is the major molecular mechanism responsible for the pro-apoptotic effect induced by SCO-1. Consequently, SCO-1 may have a potential therapeutic value, which deserves further investigation in animal models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1159
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2010


  • apoptosis
  • glioblastoma tumor initiating cells
  • mitochondria
  • ROS
  • terpenoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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