Background: Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide found in brown algae; it has been shown to exhibit a number of biological effects, including anti-tumor effects. In this study, we evaluated the effects of fucoidan on apoptosis in HT-29 and HCT116 human colon cancer cells.
Methods: HT-29 and HCT116 cells were cultured with various concentrations of fucoidan (0 - 20 microg/mL). Apoptosis was assayed via Hoechst staining and Annexin V staining followed by flow cytometric analysis. Western blot analyses and JC-1 staining were conducted to determine the levels of apoptosis-regulating proteins and mitochondrial membrane permeability, respectively.
Results: Fucoidan induced substantial reductions in viable cell numbers and apoptosis of HT-29 and HCT116 cells in a dose-dependent manner. In HT-29 cells, fucoidan also increased the levels of cleaved caspases-8, -9, -7, and -3, and cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) levels. The levels of the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein and survivin were attenuated in the fucoidan-treated cells. Fucoidan was also shown to enhance mitochondrial membrane permeability, as well as the cytochrome c and Smac/Diablo release from the mitochondria. Fucoidan increased the levels of the Bak and truncated Bid proteins, but reduced the levels of Mcl-1. Additionally, fucoidan increased the levels of the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, Fas and death receptor 5 proteins. The caspase-8 and -9 inhibitors Z-IETD-FMK and Z-LEHD-FMK induced a reduction in fucoidan-mediated apoptosis. Caspase-8 inhibitor inhibited the fucoidan-induced cleavage of Bid, caspases-9 and -3, and PARP.
Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate that fucoidan induces apoptosis in HT-29 and HCT116 human colon cancer cells, and that this phenomenon is mediated via both the death receptor-mediated and mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathways. These results suggest that fucoidan may prove useful in the development of a colon cancer-preventive protocol.