Evodiamine (EVO) exhibits anti-cancer activity through the inhibition of cell proliferation; however, little is known about its underlying mechanism. To determine whether ferroptosis is involved in the therapeutic effects of EVO, we investigated critical factors, such as lipid peroxidation levels and glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) expression, under EVO treatment. Our results showed that EVO inhibited the cell proliferation of poorly differentiated, high-grade bladder cancer TCCSUP cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Lipid peroxides were detected by fluorescence microscopy after cancer cell exposure to EVO. GPX4, which catalyzes the conversion of lipid peroxides to prevent cells from undergoing ferroptosis, was decreased dose-dependently by EVO treatment. Given the features of iron dependency and lipid-peroxidation-driven death in ferroptosis, the iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO) was used to suppress EVO-induced ferroptosis. The lipid peroxide level significantly decreased when cells were treated with DFO prior to EVO treatment. DFO also attenuated EVO-induced cell death. Co-treatment with a pan-caspase inhibitor or necroptosis inhibitor with EVO did not alleviate cancer cell death. These results indicate that EVO induces ferroptosis rather than apoptosis or necroptosis. Furthermore, EVO suppressed the migratory ability, decreased the expression of mesenchymal markers, and increased epithelial marker expression, determined by a transwell migration assay and Western blotting. The TCCSUP bladder tumor xenograft tumor model confirmed the effects of EVO on the inhibition of tumor growth and EMT. In conclusion, EVO is a novel inducer for activating the ferroptosis of bladder cancer cells and may be a potential therapeutic agent for bladder cancer.
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