Quercetin is a flavonoid present in many vegetables, fruits, and beverages. Due to its anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory activity, quercetin has been studied extensively as a chemoprevention agent in several cancer models. Since most of these studies used higher doses of quercetin than clinically achievable, we focused on the effectiveness of physiologically relevant doses of quercetin. A low dose of quercetin exerted cancer cell-specific inhibition of proliferation and this inhibition resulted from cell cycle arrest at the G(1) phase. Quercetin induced p21 CDK inhibitor with a concomitant decrease of phosphorylation of pRb, which inhibits the G(1)/S cell cycle progression by trapping E2F1. A low dose of quercetin induced mild DNA damage and Chk2 activation, which is the main regulator of p21 expression by quercetin. In addition, quercetin down-regulated the cyclin B1 and CDK1, essential components of G(2)/M cell cycle progression. Inhibition of the recruitment of key transcription factor NF-Y to cyclin B1 gene promoter by quercetin led to transcriptional inhibition. This study proved that the chemo-preventive efficacy of a physiologically relevant dose of quercetin can be achievable through the inhibition of cell cycle progression.
2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.