Quercetin, an inhibitor of heat shock protein synthesis, inhibits the acquisition of thermotolerance in a human colon carcinoma cell line

Jpn J Cancer Res. 1992 Nov;83(11):1216-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.1992.tb02748.x.


Here, we describe the effects of quercetin on the induction of thermotolerance as examined by colony forming assay in a cell line derived from human colon carcinoma (COLO320 DM). Cells became resistant to heat treatment at 45 degrees C when they were preheated at 42 degrees C for 1.5 h or at 45 degrees C for 10 min. This induction of thermotolerance was almost completely inhibited by continuous treatment with 100 microM quercetin during the first and second heating sessions, and the interval between. This effect of quercetin was demonstrated to be dose-dependent over a concentration range of 50-200 microM. Quercetin did not increase the thermosensitivity of non-tolerant cells. The presence of quercetin during the first conditioning heating was more effective in inhibiting thermotolerance than its presence during the second heating. Quercetin was also found to inhibit the acquisition of thermotolerance induced by sodium arsenite. Cycloheximide, a nonspecific inhibitor of protein synthesis, did not affect the acquisition of thermotolerance by the same cell line. Quercetin specifically inhibits the synthesis of all heat shock proteins so far reported previously, and this leads to inhibition of the induction of thermotolerance. Such inhibition of thermotolerance by quercetin may improve the efficacy of clinical fractionated hyperthermia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / pharmacology
  • Arsenites*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Kinetics
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • RNA Polymerase II / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Sodium Compounds*
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Arsenites
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Sodium Compounds
  • sodium arsenite
  • Cycloheximide
  • Quercetin
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Arsenic