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J Med Food. 2011 Mar;14(3):240-6. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.1160.

Gallic acid inhibits cell viability and induces apoptosis in human monocytic cell line U937.

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  • 1Department of Food & Biotechnology, College of Food Science, Woosuk University, Wanju, Jeonbuk, Republic of Korea.


In the present study, we investigated the effects of gallic acid (GA) (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid), a polyhydroxyphenolic compound, isolated from Rhus chinensis, on the human monocytic lymphoma cell line U937. In vitro experiments showed that treating U937 cells with various amounts of GA inhibited cell viability and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. In order to understand the mechanism by which GA induces apoptosis, we examined the gene expression of p53, nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), and inhibitor of NF-κB (I-κB) after treating the cells with GA and found that expression levels of the genes for p53 and NF-κB increased and that for I-κB decreased. The results obtained from western blotting with U937 cells showed up-regulation of NF-κB protein and down-regulation of proliferating cell nuclear antigen and I-κB protein. These results demonstrate that GA efficiently induces apoptosis in U937 cells and that GA is a potential chemotherapeutic agent against lymphoma.

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