Send to

Choose Destination
J Breast Cancer. 2016 Mar;19(1):18-25. doi: 10.4048/jbc.2016.19.1.18. Epub 2016 Mar 25.

Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester Increases Radiosensitivity of Estrogen Receptor-Positive and -Negative Breast Cancer Cells by Prolonging Radiation-Induced DNA Damage.

Author information

Laboratory of Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Tehran, Iran.
Department of Radiotherapy, Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS), Tehran, Iran.
Laboratory of Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.



Breast cancer is an important cause of death among women. The development of radioresistance in breast cancer leads to recurrence after radiotherapy. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a polyphenolic compound of honeybee propolis, is known to have anticancer properties. In this study, we examined whether CAPE enhanced the radiation sensitivity of MDA-MB-231 (estrogen receptor-negative) and T47D (estrogen receptor-positive) cell lines.


The cytotoxic effect of CAPE on MDA-MB-231 and T47D breast cancer cells was evaluated by performing an 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5 diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. To assess clonogenic ability, MDA-MB-231 and T47D cells were treated with CAPE (1 µM) for 72 hours before irradiation, and then, a colony assay was performed. A comet assay was used to determine the number of DNA strand breaks at four different times.


CAPE decreased the viability of both cell lines in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In the clonogenic assay, pretreatment of cells with CAPE before irradiation significantly reduced the surviving fraction of MDA-MB-231 cells at doses of 6 and 8 Gy. A reduction in the surviving fraction of T47D cells was observed relative to MDA-MB-231 at lower doses of radiation. Additionally, CAPE maintained radiation-induced DNA damage in T47D cells for a longer period than in MDA-MB-231 cells.


Our results indicate that CAPE impairs DNA damage repair immediately after irradiation. The induction of radiosensitivity by CAPE in radioresistant breast cancer cells may be caused by prolonged DNA damage.


Breast neoplasms; Caffeic acid phenethyl ester; DNA damage; Radiation-sensitizing agents

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Korean Breast Cancer Society Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center