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Biol Pharm Bull. 2013;36(6):944-51.

Quercetin potentiates apoptosis by inhibiting nuclear factor-kappaB signaling in H460 lung cancer cells.

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Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, BK21 Graduate Program, Sejong University, Seoul, Korea.


The herbal flavonoid quercetin inhibits the growth of various cancer cells, but how it affects human cancer cells, particularly lung cancer cells, is unclear. We investigated the anticancer activity of quercetin and the underlying molecular mechanisms in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Quercetin strongly inhibited cell proliferation, and increased sub-G1 and apoptotic cell populations regardless of p53 status. Quercetin-induced apoptosis was verified by caspase cleavage, Hoechst staining, trypan blue exclusion, and DNA fragmentation assays. Microarray analysis using H460 cells indicated that quercetin increased the expression of genes associated with death receptor signaling tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor (TRAILR), caspase-10, interleukin (IL) 1R DNA fragmentation faotor 45 (DFF45), tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) 1, FAS, inhibitor of kappaBalpha (IκBα)) and cell cycle inhibition growth arrest and DNA-damage inducible 45 (GADD45), p21(Cip1)), but decreased the expression of genes involved in nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB activation (NF-κB, IKKα). Further validation assays confirmed that quercetin inhibited growth by suppressing NF-κB and by increasing the expression of death receptors and cell cycle inhibitors. Taken together, these findings suggest that quercetin may be useful in the prevention and therapy of NSCLC.

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