Epidemiological studies show that fruit- and vegetable-rich diets are associated with a reduced risk of developing certain forms of cancer, including breast cancer. In this study we demonstrate that a subcytotoxic concentration of apigenin, which is a flavone found at high concentrations in parsley, onions, grapefruit, oranges, and chamomile tea, inhibited DNA synthesis in a panel of human breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231, MBA-MB-468, MCF-7, SK-BR-3). Decreased proliferation of MDA-MB-468 cells in the presence of apigenin was associated with G2/M phase cell cycle arrest and the production of reactive oxygen species. Apigenin-treated MDA-MB-468 cells also showed reduced phosphorylation of Akt (protein kinase B), which is an essential effector serine/threonine kinase in the phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase pathway that promotes tumor growth and progression. However, exposure to the antioxidant reduced glutathione failed to reverse apigenin-mediated inhibition of Akt phosphorylation and cell proliferation, indicating that these effects were not due to oxidative stress. Taken together, these findings suggest that low-dose apigenin has the potential to slow or prevent breast cancer progression.
Keywords: Apigenin; Breast cancer; Cell cycle; Flavone; Protein kinase B/Akt; Reactive oxygen species.
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