Introduction: Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) is the most prevalent pathological subtype of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), characterized by a high propensity for relapse and metastasis due to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cells. Ferroptosis, a newly discovered regulated cell death modality, is interconnected with the EMT process in certain cancers. Eriocitrin, a natural flavonoid compound, exerts anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.

Objectives: The aim of this study is to investigate the potential inhibitory effect of eriocitrin on lung adenocarcinoma metastasis and explore whether its underlying mechanism involves ferroptosis induction in cancer cells.

Methods: The CCK8 assay and wound healing assay and transwell were conducted to determine the cell viability and migration ability of A549 and H1299 cells, respectively. EMT process was assessed by western blot and RT-PCR to detect protein and mRNA levels of EMT markers. ROS and cell iron were measured to determine ferroptosis level.

Results: Eriocitrin treatment significantly inhibited cell viability and migration ability in a concentration-dependent manner. Furthermore, eriocitrin administration for 24 hours resulted in enhanced expression of E-cadherin, while downregulating vimentin, N-cadherin and snail expression, indicating marked repression of the EMT process. Additionally, eriocitrin significantly induced ferroptosis in A549 and H1299 cells, as evidenced by increased ROS levels, downregulation of Nrf-2, SLC7A11 and GPX4 expression, and enhanced cellular iron accumulation. Moreover, pretreatment with the ferroptosis inhibitor ferrostatin-1 effectively abrogated the inhibitory effects of eriocitrin on EMT.

Conclusions: Our findings further support the anti-cancer properties of eriocitrin, as evidenced by its ability to inhibit the EMT process in LUAD cells, which is partially mediated through induction of ferroptosis in cancer cells.