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Mol Cancer Ther. 2005 Jan;4(1):81-90.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate induces apoptosis in estrogen receptor-negative human breast carcinoma cells via modulation in protein expression of p53 and Bax and caspase-3 activation.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1670, University Boulevard, Volker Hall 557, P.O. Box 202, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has been shown to have anticarcinogenic effects in in vitro and in vivo models, and this effect is mediated at least in part by its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells without affecting normal cells. It has been recognized that estrogen receptor (ER)-dependent breast cancers generally have a better prognosis and are often responsive to antiestrogen therapy; however, ER-independent breast cancers are more aggressive and unresponsive to antiestrogens. Using the MDA-MB-468 human breast cancer cell line as an in vitro model of ER-negative breast cancers, we found that treatment of EGCG resulted in dose-dependent (5-80 microg/mL) and time-dependent (24-72 hours) inhibition of cellular proliferation (15-100%) and cell viability (3-78%) in MDA-MB-468 cells. Decrease in cell viability was associated with the induction of apoptosis (18-66%) which was analyzed by DNA ladder assay, fluorescence staining, and flow cytometry. Induction of apoptosis by EGCG could be corroborated to the increased expression of tumor suppressor protein p53 and its phosphorylation at Ser 15 residue. EGCG decreased the expression of antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 but increased proapoptotic protein Bax in these cells. The increased ratio of Bax/Bcl-2 proteins after EGCG treatment may have resulted in increased release of cytochrome c from mitochondria into cytosols, increased expression of Apaf-1, and activation of caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, which may lead to apoptosis in MDA-MB-468 cells. Together, the results of this study provide evidence that EGCG possesses anticarcinogenic effect against ER-negative breast cancer cells and thus provide the molecular basis for the future development of EGCG as a novel and pharmacologically safe chemopreventive agent for breast cancer prevention.

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