Honey is reported to contain various compounds such as phenols, vitamins and antioxidants. The present study investigates the anticancer potential of Tualang honey (Agromas) (TH) in human breast (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and cervical (HeLa) cancer cell lines; as well as in the normal breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10A. The cells were treated with increasing doses of TH (1-10%) for up to 72 h. Increase in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage from the cell membranes indicates that TH is cytotoxic to all three cancer cells with effective concentrations (EC(50)) of 2.4-2.8%. TH is however, not cytotoxic to the MCF-10A cells. Reactivity with annexin V fluorescence antibody and propidium iodide as analysed by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy shows that apoptosis occurred in these cancer cells. TH also reduced the mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψ(m)) in the cancer cell lines after 24h of treatment. The activation of caspase-3/7 and -9 was observed in all TH-treated cancer cells indicating the involvement of mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. This study shows that TH has significant anticancer activity against human breast and cervical cancer cell lines.
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