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Int J Cancer. 2002 Apr 10;98(5):761-9.

Food-derived polyphenols inhibit pancreatic cancer growth through mitochondrial cytochrome C release and apoptosis.

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Department of Surgery, Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA.


There is increasing evidence that food-derived polyphenols have a beneficial effect for cancers. Our purpose was to determine the effect and mechanism of action of these compounds on pancreatic cancer. We measured effects of quercetin on pancreatic cancer in a nude mouse model. We also investigated the effects of quercetin, rutin, trans-resveratrol and genistein on apoptosis and underlying signaling in pancreatic carcinoma cells in vitro. Quercetin decreased primary tumor growth, increased apoptosis and prevented metastasis in a model of pancreatic cancer. In vitro quercetin and trans-resveratrol, but not rutin, markedly enhanced apoptosis, causing mitochondrial depolarization and cytochrome c release followed by caspase-3 activation. In addition, the effect of a combination of quercetin and trans-resveratrol on mitochondrial cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activity was greater than the expected additive response. The inhibition of mitochondrial permeability transition prevented cytochrome c release, caspase-3 activation and apoptosis caused by polyphenols. Nuclear factor-kappa B activity was inhibited by quercetin and trans-resveratrol, but not genistein, indicating that this transcription factor is not the only mediator of the polyphenols' effects on apoptosis. The results suggest that food-derived polyphenols inhibit pancreatic cancer growth and prevent metastasis by inducing mitochondrial dysfunction, resulting in cytochrome c release, caspase activation and apoptosis.

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