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Int J Oncol. 2003 Sep;23(3):705-12.

Anthocyanidins induce apoptosis in human promyelocytic leukemia cells: structure-activity relationship and mechanisms involved.

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  • 1Department of Biochemical Science and Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, Kagoshima University, Korimoto 1-21-24, Kagoshima 890-0065, Japan.


Anthocyanidins are the aglycon nucleuses of anthocyanins, which are reddish pigments widely spread in colored fruits and vegetables. To investigate their anti-cancer effect, induction of apoptosis was tested in human promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60), which is a valid model for testing antileukemic or general antitumoral compounds. Of six anthocyanidins representing the aglycons of most of anthocyanins, only those with an ortho-dihydroxyphenyl structure on the B-ring induce apoptosis, suggesting that the ortho-dihydroxyphenyl structure of anthocyanidins may contribute to the induction of apoptosis. Delphinidin, the most potent inducer, causes apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The efficacious induction of apoptosis was observed at 100 micro M for 6 h. Concomitant with the apoptosis, delphinidin stimulates JNK pathway activation including JNK phosphorylation and c-jun gene expression, and activates caspase-3. Antioxidants including N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) and catalase effectively block delphinidin-induced JNK phosphorylation, caspase-3 activation, and DNA fragmentation. Moreover, anthocyanidins directly cause HL-60 cells to generate intracellular hydrogen peroxide. Thus, anthocyanidins may trigger an apoptotic death program through an oxidative stress-involved JNK signaling pathway. The induction of apoptosis by anthocyanins may be the pivotal mechanism by which its chemopreventive action against cancer is based.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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