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J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Nov;24(11):1849-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.04.006. Epub 2013 Aug 16.

Anti-cancer effects of naturally occurring compounds through modulation of signal transduction and miRNA expression in human colon cancer cells.

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United Graduate School of Drug Discovery and Medical Information Sciences, Gifu University, 1-1 Yanagido, Gifu 501-1193, Japan; Graduate School of Engineering, Gifu University, 1-1 Yanagido, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.


Much evidence indicates that various naturally occurring compounds have an anti-cancer effect, but the detailed mechanisms are not well understood. In this study, we selected anti-cancer phytochemicals such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), resveratrol (RES) and α-mangostin (α-M), all of which are well-characterized chemopreventive agents. We sought to elucidate the mechanism of their anti-cancer effects and the synergistic effects obtained by combined treatment with the anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in three human colon cancer cell lines. The numbers of viable cells were consistently decreased by the treatment with EGCG, RES or α-M at more than 10 μM in all three cell lines tested. All compounds mainly induced apoptosis and suppressed the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Additionally, α-M, which had the greatest PI3K/Akt-suppressing activity, also suppressed MAP kinase (MAPK)/Erk1/2 signaling. Importantly, the combination treatment with RES and 5-FU induced a remarkably synergistic enhancement of growth inhibition and apoptosis through the additional suppression of the MAPK/Erk1/2 signaling pathway in colon cancer DLD-1 cells. Interestingly, RES increased the intracellular expression level of miR-34a, which down-regulated the target gene E2F3 and its downstream Sirt1, resulting in growth inhibition. These findings indicate that these compounds functioned as chemosensitizers when combined with anti-cancer drugs through the modulation of apoptotic and growth-related signaling pathways. Also, RES exerted its anti-cancer activity in part through a newly defined mechanism, i.e., the miR-34a/E2F3/Sirt1 cascade.


Anti-cancer drug; Anti-cancer effect; Apoptosis; Phytochemicals; Resveratrol; miR-34a

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