Bavachin suppresses human placental choriocarcinoma cells by targeting electron transport chain complexes and mitochondrial dysfunction

Jin Young Lee, Whasun Lim, Gwonhwa Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Phytoestrogens are naturally derived estrogen-like therapeutic compounds that have long been studied for their role as anti-cancer agents and supplements during chemotherapy. Bavachin is a therapeutic phytoestrogen used to treat cancer, inflammation, and diabetes mellitus. Though the therapeutic effects of bavachin on various diseases have been explored, its anti-cancer effects and related mechanisms in human placental choriocarcinoma remain unknown. This is the first study to identify the anti-cancer potential of bavachin on human placental choriocarcinoma cell lines JEG3 and JAR. Placental mitochondria support the elevated energy production required for placental development, through oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Based on this concept, we hypothesized that mitochondrial targeting by bavachin may contribute to anti-cancer activities in high-OXPHOS subtypes of cancer such as placental choriocarcinoma. Apoptosis and caspase activities were increased by bavachin in placental choriocarcinoma cells. Bavachin altered metabolic phenotypes by regulating electron transport chain complex and OXPHOS to suppress choriocarcinoma cell proliferation. It also led to calcium disruption and endoplasmic reticulum stress accompanied by mitochondrial membrane potential depolarization. It showed synergistic anti-cancer effects with paclitaxel on placental choriocarcinoma cells. Taken together, we suggest that bavachin has therapeutic potential against placental choriocarcinoma and may be used to counter paclitaxel-induced toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Early online date2020 Jun 5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 20

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Bavachin
  • Electron transport chain
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Placental choriocarcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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