J Cell Biochem. 2021 Oct 12. Epub 2021 Oct 12. PMID: 34636440
Thymoquinone and quercetin induce enhanced apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer in combination through the Bax/Bcl2 cascade.
The treatments available for non-small cell lung cancer exert various side effects in patients, and the burden of treatment cost is high. Therefore, exploring the alternative system of medicines, including therapies based on natural compounds, has become inevitable in developing anticancer therapeutics. This study used an integrated approach involving in-silico and in-vitro methods to explore natural compounds targeting Bax and Bcl2 for their apoptotic potential. Molecular docking followed by molecular dynamics (MD) simulation of thymoquinone (Tq) and quercetin (Qu) with Bax and Bcl2 were carried out to explore their interactions and stability under explicit solvent conditions. Tq and Qu showed appreciable binding affinities toward Bax (-6.2 and -7.1 kcal/mol, respectively) and Bcl2 (-5.6 and -6.4 kcal/mol, respectively) with well-organized conformational fitting compatibility. The MD simulation results revealed the development of stable complexes maintained by various noncovalent interactions that were preserved throughout the 100 ns trajectories. Further studies with these compounds were carried out using various in-vitro experimental approaches like MTT assay, apoptotic assay, and Western blot. ICvalues of Tq and Qu alone in A549 cells were found to be 45.78 and 35.69 µM, while in combination, it comes down to 22.49 µM, which is quite impressive. Similarly, in apoptosis assay, a combination of Tq and Qu shows 50.9% early apoptosis compared to Tq (40.6%) and Qu (33.3%) when taken alone. These assays signify their apoptotic induction potential, whereas both compounds significantly reduce the expression of antiapoptotic protein Bcl2 and induce proapoptotic Bax, suggestive of sensitizing NSCLS cells toward apoptosis.