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Carcinogenesis. 2002 Dec;23(12):2031-41.

Inositol hexakisphosphate blocks tumor cell growth by activating apoptotic machinery as well as by inhibiting the Akt/NFkappaB-mediated cell survival pathway.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Faculty of Dental Science and Station for Collaborative Research, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.

Erratum in

  • Carcinogenesis. 2003 Jan;24(1):149.


It has been reported that inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP(6), phytic acid), a natural product, has an anticancer role. However, there is inadequate information regarding the mechanism by which InsP(6) exerts anticancer actions, and the effect requires relatively high concentration of the agent, both of which hinders the usage of InsP(6) as an anticancer drug. In the present study, we investigated the mechanism by which InsP(6) acts as an anticancer agent, and tried to reduce the concentration of effective InsP(6). Treatment of HeLa cells with InsP(6) at 1 mM induced apoptosis, as assessed by counting the cell number, and by Hoechst and TUNEL staining. This is probably mediated by intracellular InsP(6) itself and/or the dephosphorylated forms of metabolized InsP(6), because incubation of HeLa cells with [(3)H]InsP(6) produces dephosphorylated forms such as InsP(4) and InsP(5). Induction of apoptosis by InsP(6) was examined in two ways: inhibition of cell survival signaling and direct induction of apoptosis. Treatment of HeLa cells with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) or insulin stimulated the Akt-nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB) pathway, a cell survival signal, which involves the phosphorylation of Akt and IkappaB, nuclear translocation of NFkappaB and NFkappaB-luciferase transcription activity. InsP(6) blocked all these cellular events, but phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity was not affected. As well as inhibiting the Akt-NFkappaB pathway, InsP(6) itself caused mitochondrial permeabilization, followed by cytochrome c release, which later caused activation of the apoptotic machinery, caspase 9, caspase 3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. When InsP(6) was applied together with histone, the effective concentration to induce apoptosis was approximately 10-fold lower. These results revealed that extracellularly applied InsP(6) directly activates the apoptotic machinery as well as inhibits the cell survival signaling, probably by the intracellular delivery followed by a dephosphorylation.

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