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Anticancer Drugs. 2014 Feb;25(2):150-60. doi: 10.1097/CAD.0000000000000039.

Anticancer effect of bromelain with and without cisplatin or 5-FU on malignant peritoneal mesothelioma cells.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of New South Wales, St George Hospital, Kogarah, New South Wales, Australia.


Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare neoplasm of the peritoneum, causally related to asbestos exposure. Nonspecific symptoms with a late diagnosis results in poor survival (<1 year). Treatment with cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy has improved survival in some patients (median 3-5 years). Hence, new therapies are urgently needed. MUC1 is a glycosylation-dependent protein that confers tumours with invasiveness, metastasis and chemoresistance. Bromelain (cysteine proteinase) hydrolyses glycosidic bonds. Therefore, we investigated the antitumour effect of bromelain on MUC1-expressing MPM cell lines. MUC1 expressions in cells were assessed using immunofluorescent probes with cells grown on cover slips and western blot analysis on cell lysates. The cell lines were treated with various concentrations of bromelain and after 4 and 72 h, their viability was assessed using standard sulforhodamine assays. The cells were also treated with combinations of bromelain and cytotoxic drugs (cisplatin or 5-FU) and their viability was assessed at 72 h. Finally, with western blotting, the effects of bromelain on cellular survival proteins were investigated. PET cells expressed more MUC1 compared with YOU cells. The cell viability of both PET and YOU cells was adversely affected by bromelain, with PET cells being slightly resistant. The addition of bromelain increased the cytotoxicity of cisplatin significantly in both cell lines. However, 5-FU with bromelain did not show any significant increase in cytotoxicity. Bromelain-induced cell death is by apoptosis and autophagy. Bromelain has the potential of being developed as a therapeutic agent in MPM.

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