Research Summary: Quercetin Potentiates Doxorubicin Mediated Antitumor Effects against Liver Cancer through p53/Bcl-xl



The dose-dependent toxicities of doxorubicin (DOX) limit its clinical applications, particularly in drug-resistant cancers, such as liver cancer. In this study, we investigated the role of quercetin on the antitumor effects of DOX on liver cancer cells and its ability to provide protection against DOX-mediated liver damage in mice.

Methodology and Results

The MTT and Annexin V/PI staining assay demonstrated that quercetin selectively sensitized DOX-induced cytotoxicity against liver cancer cells while protecting normal liver cells. The increase in DOX-mediated apoptosis in hepatoma cells by quercetin was p53-dependent and occurred by downregulating Bcl-xl expression. Z-VAD-fmk (caspase inhibitor), pifithrin-α (p53 inhibitor), or overexpressed Bcl-xl decreased the effects of quercetin on DOX-mediated apoptosis. The combined treatment of quercetin and DOX significantly reduced the growth of liver cancer xenografts in mice. Moreover, quercetin decreased the serum levels of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase that were increased in DOX-treated mice. Quercetin also reversed the DOX-induced pathological changes in mice livers.

Conclusion and Significance

These results indicate that quercetin potentiated the antitumor effects of DOX on liver cancer cells while protecting normal liver cells. Therefore, the development of quercetin may be beneficial in a combined treatment with DOX for increased therapeutic efficacy against liver cancer.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 11-December-2012

Author(s): Wang G., Zhang J., Liu L., Sharma S., Dong Q.


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