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    Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)-producing pituitary adenoma leads to excess ACTH secretion, which is associated with significant mortality and impaired quality of life. Thus far, the first line therapy is the transphenoidal microsurgery. Considering the high recurrence rate and complications of surgery, novel agents, which directly target on pituitary ACTH-producing adenoma and suppress ACTH secretion are urgently required. In the present study, the effect of ursolic acid (UA) as a candidate agent targeting ACTH-producing AtT20 cells was investigated. It was demonstrated that UA inhibited the viability and induced apoptosis of AtT20 cells and decreased ACTH secretion. The process of apoptosis involved a decrease of the B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2)/Bcl2-associated X protein ratio followed by a release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytosol with subsequent activation of caspase-9, -3/7 and -8. The potential signaling pathway involved the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) but not extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases1/2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. The JNK pathway participated in UA-induced mitochondrial apoptotic signaling transduction via increasing the phosphorylation and degradation of Bcl-2, which may be partly attenuated by the JNK inhibitor SP600125. In conclusion, the present study indicates that UA may be a promising candidate agent for the management of ACTH-producing pituitary adenoma.


    Ying-Ying Gong, Yuan-Yuan Liu, Shuang Yu, Xiao-Nan Zhu, Xiao-Pei Cao, Hai-Peng Xiao. Ursolic acid suppresses growth and adrenocorticotrophic hormone secretion in AtT20 cells as a potential agent targeting adrenocorticotrophic hormone-producing pituitary adenoma. Molecular medicine reports. 2014 Jun;9(6):2533-9

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    PMID: 24682498

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