Ionizing radiation is widely used in radiotherapy, in order to promote an apoptotic response in cancerous cells. Since the need to find new substances that would enhance the radiation-induced apoptosis in cancerous cells is great, we studied the effect of epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG, a tea component), resveratrol (a wine component) and curcuma on cell proliferation and radiation-induced apoptosis in the human leukaemic cell line, EOL-1, derived from a patient with eosinophilic leukaemia. Cells were X-irradiated with 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8 Gy and cultured in the presence of EGCG, resveratrol or curcuma (concentrations ranging from 0 to 200 microM) for 1, 2 or 3 days of culture. Cell proliferation was measured using trypan blue exclusion. Apoptosis was evaluated using light microscopy (morphology study after May-Grunwald Giemsa staining) and flow cytometry (annexin-V staining). Irradiation alone induced a dose-related reduction in cell proliferation and the appearance of polyploid cells in EOL-1 cells. Additionally, EOL-1 cells underwent a dose-related increase of apoptosis which, from the second day on, was accompanied by a dose-related increase of necrosis. When cells were exposed to EGCG, resveratrol or curcuma alone, a decrease in cell proliferation was observed, beginning from 25 microM EGCG and 50 microM resveratrol and curcuma, while an increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells was noted from 50 microM EGCG, 100 microM resveratrol and curcuma in EOL-1 cells, after only one day of culture. Simultaneous exposure to X-irradiation and, EGCG, resveratrol or curcuma resulted in a synergistic decrease of cell proliferation as well as in a synergistic increase of apoptosis and necrosis. These results suggest that, depending on the concentration, EGCG, resveratrol and curcuma enhance radiation-induced apoptosis in the leukaemic cell line, EOL-1 (EGCG >resveratrol >curcuma). In order to further characterise the radiation-induced apoptosis of this leukaemic cell line, other flow cytometrical analyses are in progress.