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Mol Med Rep. 2015 Aug;12(2):2977-84. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.3698. Epub 2015 Apr 28.

Apigenin induces caspase-dependent apoptosis by inhibiting signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 signaling in HER2-overexpressing SKBR3 breast cancer cells.

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Laboratory of Clinical Biology and Pharmacogenomics and Center for Clinical Research and Genomics, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Dongdaemun‑gu, Seoul 130‑701, Republic of Korea.
College of Pharmacy, Gachon University of Medicine and Science, Yeonsu‑gu, Incheon 406‑840, Republic of Korea.
Department of Oriental Medicine, Semyung University, College of Korean Medicine, Jecheon, Chungbuk 390‑711, Republic of Korea.


Phytoestrogens have been demonstrated to inhibit tumor induction; however, their molecular mechanisms of action have remained elusive. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of a phytoestrogen, apigenin, on proliferation and apoptosis of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-expressing breast cancer cell line SKBR3. Proliferation assay, MTT assay, fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, western blot analysis, immunocytochemistry, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and ELISA assay were used in the present study. The results of the present study indicated that apigenin inhibited the proliferation of SKBR3 cells in a dose-and time-dependent manner. This inhibition of growth was accompanied by an increase in the sub-G0/G1 apoptotic population. Furthermore, apigenin enhanced the expression levels of cleaved caspase-8 and -3, and induced the cleavage of poly(adenosine diphosphate ribose) polymerase in SKBR3 cells, confirming that apigenin promotes apoptosis via a caspase-dependent pathway. Apigenin additionally reduced the expression of phosphorylated (p)-janus kinase 2 and p-signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), inhibited CoCl2-induced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion and decreased the nuclear localization of STAT3. The STAT3 inhibitor S31-201 decreased the cellular proliferation rate and reduced the expression of p-STAT3 and VEGF. Therefore, these results suggested that apigenin induced apoptosis via the inhibition of STAT3 signaling in SKBR3 cells. In conclusion, the results of the present study indicated that apigenin may be a potentially useful compound for the prevention or treatment of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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