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J Biomed Sci. 2009 May 27;16:49. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-16-49.

Combination of apigenin treatment with therapeutic HPV DNA vaccination generates enhanced therapeutic antitumor effects.

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Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



It is important to develop innovative therapies for advanced stage cancers in addition to the conventional therapies including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Antigen-specific immunotherapy has emerged as a novel alternate therapy for advanced stage cancers, which may be employed in conjunction with conventional therapies.


In the current study, we tested the effect of treatment with the chemotherapeutic agent, apigenin in combination with DNA vaccines encoding the HPV-16 E7 antigen linked to heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) in the control of the E7-expressing tumor, TC-1.


We observed that treatment with apigenin rendered the TC-1 tumor cells more susceptible to lysis by E7-specific cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, treatment of TC-1 tumor cells with apigenin was found to enhance apoptotic tumor cell death in vitro in a dose-dependant manner. We showed that TC-1 tumor-bearing mice treated with apigenin combined with E7-HSP70 DNA generate highest frequency of primary and memory E7-specific CD8+ T cells, leading to potent therapeutic anti-tumor effects against E7-expressing tumors.


Thus, apigenin represents a promising chemotherapeutic agent, which may be used in combination with immunotherapy for the treatment of advanced stage cancers. The clinical implications of the current strategy are discussed.

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