JOURNAL ARTICLE

The radio-sensitizing effect of xanthohumol is mediated by STAT3 and EGFR suppression in doxorubicin-resistant MCF-7 human breast cancer cells

Youra Kang, Min A Park, Se-Woong Heo, Su-Young Park, Keon Wook Kang, Pil-Hoon Park, Jung-Ae Kim
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 2013, 1830 (3): 2638-48
23246576

BACKGROUND: Chemotherapeutic drug resistance remains a clinical obstacle in cancer management. Drug-resistant cancer cells usually exhibit cross-resistance to ionizing radiation, which has devastating consequences for patients. With a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms, it will be possible to develop strategies to overcome this cross-resistance and to increase therapeutic sensitivity.

METHODS: Natural and synthetic flavonoid compounds including xanthohumol, the principal flavonoid in hops, were investigated for its radio-sensitizing activity on human breast cancer MCF-7 and adriamycin-resistant MCF-7 (MCF-7/ADR) cells. Chemo-sensitizing or radio-sensitizing effect was analyzed by tetrazolium-based colorimetric assay and flow cytometry. Western blot analysis, confocal microscopy, gene silencing with siRNA transfection and luciferase reporter gene assay were performed to examine signaling molecule activation.

RESULTS: Among the tested flavonoid compounds, pretreatment of the cells with xanthohumol significantly sensitized MCF-7/ADR cells to the radiation treatment by inducing apoptosis. In MCF-7/ADR cells, treatment with xanthohumol alone or with gamma-rays significantly decreased levels of anti-apoptotic proteins. Multi-drug resistance 1 (MDR1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) expression levels in MCF-7/ADR cells were suppressed by xanthohumol treatment. In addition, xanthohumol treatment increased death receptor (DR)-4 and DR5 expression. The xanthohumol-induced changes of these resistance-related molecules in MCF-7/ADR cells were synergistically increased by gamma-ray treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Xanthohumol restored sensitivity of MCF-7/ADR cells to doxorubicin and radiation therapies.

GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: Our results suggest that xanthohumol may be a potent chemo- and radio-sensitizer, and its actions are mediated through STAT3 and EGFR inhibition.

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