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Mol Cancer Ther. 2006 Apr;5(4):945-51.

The dietary flavonoid apigenin sensitizes malignant tumor cells to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand.

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Department of Molecular-Targeting Cancer Prevention, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kawaramachi-Hirokoji, Kyoto 602-8566, Japan.


Dietary flavonoid apigenin is expected to have preventive and therapeutic potential against malignant tumors. In this report, we show for the first time that apigenin markedly induces the expression of death receptor 5 (DR5) and synergistically acts with exogenous soluble recombinant human tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) to induce apoptosis in malignant tumor cells. TRAIL is a promising candidate for cancer therapeutics due to its ability to selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells. The combined use of apigenin and TRAIL at suboptimal concentrations induces Bcl-2-interacting domain cleavage and the activation of caspases-8, -10, -9, and -3. Furthermore, human recombinant DR5/Fc chimera protein and caspase inhibitors dramatically inhibit apoptosis induced by the combination of apigenin and TRAIL. On the other hand, apigenin-mediated induction of DR5 expression is not observed in normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Moreover, apigenin does not sensitize normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that this combined treatment with apigenin and TRAIL might be promising as a new therapy against malignant tumors.

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