Korean Journal of Pediatrics 2008;51(3):307-314.
Published online March 15, 2008.
Capsaicin induced apoptosis and the enhanced anticancer effect of anticancer drugs in cancer cells
Sun Young Kim1, You Jin Lee1, Eun Hye Park1, Ho Keun Yi2, Dae Sun Jo3, Jung Soo Kim3, Pyoung Han Hwang3
1Research Institute of Clinical Medicine, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
2Department of Biochemistry, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
3Department of Pediatrics, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
종양세포에서의 capsaicin에 의한 apoptosis 유도와항암제의 항암효과의 증가
김선영1, 이유진1, 박은혜1, 이호근2, 조대선3, 김정수3, 황평한3
1전북대학교 의과대학 임상의학연구소
2전북대학교 치과대학 생화학교실
3전북대학교 의과대학 소아과학교실
Correspondence: 
Pyoung Han Hwang, Email: hwaph@chonbuk.ac.kr
Abstract
Purpose
: Capsaicin, the major pungent ingredient in red pepper, has long been used in spices and food additives. It has been recently shown to induce apoptosis in several cell lines through a not well known mechanism. The aim of this study was to investigate the apoptosis-inducing effect of capsaicin on gastric cancer cells, and to provide valuable information concerning the application of capsaicin for therapeutic purposes.
Methods
: Cultured SNU-668 cells were treated with capsaicin. We analyzed cell survival by trypan blue and crystal violet analysis, cell cytotoxicity by MTT assay, apoptosis by nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentation, bcl-2 and bax mRNA expression by RT-PCR, and the expression of apoptosis related proteins by Western immunoblot analysis. In order to assess whether the growth inhibitory effect of anticancer drugs is enhanced by capsaicin, we investigated the effects of cell cytotoxicity and the expression of apoptosis related proteins of etoposide and adriamycin treated with capsaicin in cells.
Results
: Capsaicin inhibited growth of SNU-668 cells in a dose-dependent manner. This inhibitory effect of capsaicin on cell growth was mainly due to the induction of apoptosis as evidenced by DNA fragmentation, nuclear condensation and the expression of apoptosis related proteins. Furthermore, capsaicin prominently reduced the ratio of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 to pro-apoptotic Bax and consequently increased caspase-3 activity. The cells treated with capsaicin were more sensitive to death induced by etoposide and adriamycin than the cells without capsaicin.
Conclusion
: These results demonstrate that capsaicin efficiently induced apoptosis in SNU-668 cells through a caspase- 3-dependent mechanism and sensitizes cancer cells to anticancer drugs toward apoptotic cell death, which may contribute to its anticancer effect and chemosensitizer function against gastric cancer.
Key Words: Capsaicin, Apoptosis, Chemosensitivity, Gastric cancer


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