The green tea catechin epigallocatechin gallate induces cell cycle arrest and shows potential synergism with cisplatin in biliary tract cancer cells

Christian Mayr, Andrej Wagner, Daniel Neureiter, Martin Pichler, Martin Jakab, Romana Illig, Frieder Berr, Tobias Kiesslich
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015, 15: 194

BACKGROUND: The green tea catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was shown to effectively inhibit tumor growth in various types of cancer including biliary tract cancer (BTC). For most BTC patients only palliative therapy is possible, leading to a median survival of about one year. Chemoresistance is a major problem that contributes to the high mortality rates of BTC. The aim of this study was to investigate the cytotoxic effect of EGCG alone or in combination with cisplatin on eight BTC cell lines and to investigate the cellular anti-cancer mechanisms of EGCG.

METHODS: The effect of EGCG treatment alone or in combination with the standard chemotherapeutic cisplatin on cell viability was analyzed in eight BTC cell lines. Additionally, we analyzed the effects of EGCG on caspase activity, cell cycle distribution and gene expression in the BTC cell line TFK-1.

RESULTS: EGCG significantly reduced cell viability in all eight BTC cell lines (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01, respectively, for most cell lines and EGCG concentrations > 5 μM). Combined EGCG and cisplatin treatment showed a synergistic cytotoxic effect in five cell lines and an antagonistic effect in two cell lines. Furthermore, EGCG reduced the mRNA levels of various cell cycle-related genes, while increasing the expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p21 and the apoptosis-related death receptor 5 (p < 0.05). This observation was accompanied by an increase in caspase activity and cells in the sub-G1 phase of the cell cycle, indicating induction of apoptosis. EGCG also induced a down-regulation of expression of stem cell-related genes and genes that are associated with an aggressive clinical character of the tumor, such as cd133 and abcg2.

CONCLUSIONS: EGCG shows various anti-cancer effects in BTC cell lines and might therefore be a potential anticancer drug for future studies in BTC. Additionally, EGCG displays a synergistic cytotoxic effect with cisplatin in most tested BTC cell lines. Graphical abstract Summary illustration.

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