Quercetin is a hydrophobic agent with potential anticancer activity. The aim of the present study was to observe the effects of quercetin on the proliferation of the breast cancer cell line MCF-7 and the gene expression of survivin. The molecular mechanism underlying the antiproliferative effect of quercetin was also investigated. MCF-7 breast cancer cells were treated with various concentrations of quercetin. The inhibitory effect of quercetin on proliferation was detected using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) method and the inhibition rate was calculated. Cellular apoptosis was detected by immunocytochemistry and survivin mRNA expression levels were observed using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Western blot analysis was used to analyze changes in the expression levels of survivin protein. Quercetin induced the apoptosis of MCF-7 cells and inhibited the proliferation of the MCF-7 breast cancer cells in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. The mRNA and protein expression levels of survivin were reduced as the concentration of quercetin increased. Quercetin inhibited the growth of MCF-7 cells and promoted apoptosis by inducing G0/ G1 phase arrest. It also regulated the expression of survivin mRNA in MCF-7 cells, which may be the mechanism underlying its antitumor effect.
Keywords: breast cancer; cell cycle; proliferation; quercetin; survivin.