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Chem Biol Interact. 2011 Sep 5;193(2):180-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2011.06.009. Epub 2011 Jul 3.

Involvement of catalase in the apoptotic mechanism induced by apigenin in HepG2 human hepatoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Federal University of Paran√°, Curitiba, PR, Brazil.


Apigenin has been reported to inhibit proliferation of cancer cells; however, the mechanism underlying its action is not completely understood. Here, we evaluated the effects of apigenin on the levels of expression and activity of antioxidant enzymes, and the involvement of ROS in the mechanism of cell death induced by apigenin in HepG2 human hepatoma cells. Upon treatment with apigenin, HepG2 cells displayed a reduction in cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and some morphological changes. In addition, apigenin treatment induced ROS generation and significantly decreased the mRNA levels and activity of catalase and levels of intracellular GSH. On the other hand, apigenin treatment did not alter the expression or activity levels of other antioxidant enzymes. Addition of exogenous catalase significantly reduced the effects of apigenin on HepG2 cell death. We also demonstrated that HepG2 cells are more sensitive to apigenin-mediated cell death than are primary cultures of mouse hepatocytes, suggesting a differential toxic effect of this agent in tumor cells. Our results suggest that apigenin-induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells may be mediated by a H(2)O(2)-dependent pathway via reduction of the antioxidant defenses.

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