Induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in HT-29 human colon cancer cells by the dietary compound luteolin

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007 Jan;292(1):G66-75. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00248.2006. Epub 2006 Aug 10.


Luteolin is 3',4',5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone found in celery, green pepper, and perilla leaf that inhibits tumorigenesis in animal models. We examined luteolin-mediated regulation of cell cycle progression and apoptosis in the HT-29 human colon cancer cell line. Luteolin decreased DNA synthesis and viable HT-29 cell numbers in a concentration-dependent manner. It inhibited cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)4 and CDK2 activity, resulting in G1 arrest with a concomitant decrease of phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein. Activities of CDK4 and CDK2 decreased within 2 h after luteolin treatment, with a 38% decrease in CDK2 activity (P < 0.05) observed in cells treated with 40 micromol/l luteolin. Luteolin inhibited CDK2 activity in a cell-free system, suggesting that it directly inhibits CDK2. Cyclin D1 levels decreased after luteolin treatment, although no changes in expression of cyclin A, cyclin E, CDK4, or CDK2 were detected. Luteolin also promoted G2/M arrest at 24 h posttreatment by downregulating cyclin B1 expression and inhibiting cell division cycle (CDC)2 activity. Luteolin promoted apoptosis with increased activation of caspases 3, 7, and 9 and enhanced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and decreased expression of p21(CIP1/WAF1), survivin, Mcl-1, Bcl-x(L), and Mdm-2. Decreased expression of these key antiapoptotic proteins could contribute to the increase in p53-independent apoptosis that was observed in HT-29 cells. We demonstrate that luteolin promotes both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in the HT-29 colon cancer cell line, providing insight about the mechanisms underlying its antitumorigenic activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 4 / metabolism
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • G1 Phase / drug effects
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Luteolin / pharmacology*


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 4
  • Luteolin