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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2012;30(3):653-65. doi: 10.1159/000341446. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Induction of apoptosis and growth arrest in human breast carcinoma cells by a snake (Walterinnesia aegyptia) venom combined with silica nanoparticles: crosstalk between Bcl2 and caspase 3.

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Zoology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


We recently demonstrated that the snake venom extracted from Walterinnesia aegyptia (WEV) either alone or combined with silica nanoparticles (WEV+NP) enhanced the proliferation of mice immune cells and simultaneously decreased the proliferation of human breast carcinoma cell line (MDA-MB-231). However, the molecular mechanism of how this venom induced growth arrest of breast cancer cells has not been studied. In this context, we extended our study to evaluate the anti-tumor potential of WEV and WEV+NP on the human breast carcinoma cell lines MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7, as well as their effects on non-tumorigenic normal breast epithelial cells (MCF-10). The IC(50 )values of WEV alone and WEV+NP in these cell lines were determined to be 50 ng/ml and 20 ng/ml, respectively. Interestingly, at these concentrations, the venom did not affect the viability of normal MCF-10 cells and treatment of all these cell lines with NP alone did not affect their viability. Using annexin-V binding assay followed by flow cytometry analysis, we found that combination of WEV with NP strongly induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cancer cells without significant effect on normal MCF-10 cells. Furthermore, we found that WEV+NP decreased the expression of Bcl2 and enhanced the activation of caspase 3 in MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells. Most importantly, WEV+NP-treated breast cancer cells, but not normal MCF-10 cells, exhibited a significant (P<0.05) reduction in actin polymerization and cytoskeletal rearrangement in response to CXCL12. Our data reveal biological effects of WEV or WEV+NP and the underlying mechanisms to fight breast cancer cells.

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