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Carcinogenesis. 2008 Nov;29(11):2153-61. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgn018. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

The sensitivity to beta-carotene growth-inhibitory and proapoptotic effects is regulated by caveolin-1 expression in human colon and prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1Institute of General Pathology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Largo F. Vito 1, Rome 00168, Italy. p.palozza@rm.unicatt.it


Although several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the putative role of beta-carotene in cancer, no studies have investigated a possible influence of beta-carotene on caveolin-1 (cav-1) pathway, an important intracellular signaling deregulated in cancer. Here, different human colon and prostate cancer cell lines, expressing (HCT-116, PC-3 cells) or not (Caco-2, LNCaP cells) cav-1, were treated with varying concentrations of beta-carotene (0.5-30 muM) for different periods of time (3-72 h) and the effects on cell growth were investigated. The results of this study show that (i) beta-carotene acted as a growth-inhibitory agent in cav-1-positive cells, but not in cav-1-negative cells; (ii) in cav-1-positive cells, the carotenoid downregulated in a dose- and time-dependent manner the expression of cav-1 protein and messenger RNA levels and inhibited AKT phosphorylation which, in turn, stimulated apoptosis by increasing the expression of beta-catenin and c-myc and the activity of caspases-3, -7, -8 and -9; when the carotenoid was removed from culture medium, a progressive increase in cell growth was observed with respect to beta-carotene-treated cells and (iii) the transfection of cav-1 in cav-1-negative cells increased cell sensitivity to beta-carotene by inducing apoptosis. This effect was accompanied by a reduction of both cav-1 and AKT phosphorylation and by an increase of c-myc and beta-catenin expression. Silencing of c-Myc attenuated beta-carotene-induced apoptosis and beta-catenin expression. All together, these data suggest that the modulation of cav-1 pathway by beta-carotene could be a novel mechanism by which the carotenoid acts as a potent growth-inhibitory agent in cancer cells.

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