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Radiother Oncol. 2012 Sep;104(3):395-400. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2011.10.023. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Combination of quercetin with radiotherapy enhances tumor radiosensitivity in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Jilin University, Changchun, China.



Quercetin (3, 3,' 4', 5, 7 - five-flavonoids) is one of the main components of flavonoids, with multifunctions on immune function, anti-oxidation, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular protection. We hypothesize that a combination of quercetin with radiation would increase tumor radiosensitivity. To test this hypothesis, we conducted in vitro and in vivo studies.


The in vitro radio-sensitization activity of quercetin was tested in DLD1, HeLa and MCF-7 tumor cell lines by colony formation assays. The in vivo activity was assessed in the DLD-1 human colorectal cancer xenograft model in nude mice. Mechanistic studies were conducted in several cell lines using Western blot analysis and immunofluorescence microscopy.


We found that quercetin can significantly increase tumor radiosensitivity both in vitro and in vivo. The in vitro Sensitizing Enhancement Ratios in DLD1, HeLa and MCF-7 cells were 1.87, 1.65, and 1.74, respectively. The mean doubling time of tumor xenografts was significantly increased in irradiated mice treated with quercetin. At the cellular level, exposure to quercetin resulted in prolonged DNA repair. The mechanistic studies demonstrated that quercetin induced radio-sensitization is through inhibiting the ATM kinase, one of the critical DNA damage response proteins.


We demonstrate both in vitro and in vivo evidence that combination of quercetin with radiotherapy can enhance tumor radiosensitivity by targeting the ATM-mediated pathway in response to radiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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