A vast variety of naturally occurring substances have been shown to protect against experimental carcinogenesis and an increasing amount of evidence suggests that kaempferol may have cancer chemopreventative properties. However, the precise underlying protective mechanisms are poorly understood. To elucidate these mechanisms, we challenged human lung cancer cell line A549 with kaempferol and investigated its effects upon cellular growth and signal transduction pathways. Treatment of A549 cells with kaempferol resulted in a dose- and time-dependent reduction in cell viability and DNA synthesis with the rate of apoptosis equivalent to 0.9+/-0.5, 5.2+/-1.5, 16.8+/-2.0, 25.4+/-2.6, and 37.8+/-4.5% on treatment with 0, 17.5, 35.0, 52.5, and 70.0 microM kaempferol, respectively. Concomitantly, kaempferol treatments led to a 1.2-, 2.7-, 3.3-, and 3.4-fold increase in Bax. Similar elevations were also observed in Bad which increased 1.2-, 3.3-, 3.7-, and 4.7-fold, respectively, as compared to control. Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL expression were inhibited in a dose-dependent fashion. While the Akt-1 and phosphorylated Akt-1 were inhibited, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) was activated upon kaempferol treatment. Kaempferol induced apoptosis was associated with the cleavage of caspase-7 and poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP). Inhibition of MEK1/2 but not PI-3 kinase blocked kaempferol-induced cleavage of caspase-7, PARP cleavage, and apoptosis. The results suggest that inactivation of Akt-1 and alteration of Bcl-2 family of proteins are not sufficient for kaempferol to induce apoptosis and activation of MEK-MAPK is a requirement for kaempferol-induced cell death machinery in A549 cells.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.