beta-Adrenoreceptor antagonists reduce cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and migration

Pharm Biol. 2014 Nov;52(11):1374-81. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2014.892513. Epub 2014 Jul 15.


Context: Propranolol, atenolol, and ICI118,551 are non-selective β-adrenergic receptor (AR), β1-AR, and β2-AR antagonists, respectively.

Objective: We investigated the efficacy of propranolol, atenolol, and ICI118,551 on proliferation, migration, and invasion of non-stimulated breast (MCF7), colon (HT-29), and hepatocellular (HepG2) cancer cells.

Materials and methods: β-AR expression profiling of cells was performed by real time PCR. Cell proliferation was determined by MTT. Boyden chamber and scratch assays were performed to evaluate invasion and migration.

Results and discussion: All cell lines expressed β-ARs. ICI118,551 was the most cytotoxic, whereas atenolol was the least effective β-AR antagonist for 24, 48, and 72 h. Cell invasion was inhibited by ICI118,551 (45, 46, and 50% for MCF7, HT29, and HepG2, respectively) and propranolol (72, 65, and 90% for MCF7, HT29, and HepG2, respectively). Propranolol, atenolol, and ICI118,551 reduced migration of MCF7, HT-29, and HepG2 cells to varying extents depending on the application concentration and duration. Propranolol and atenolol reduced migration of MCF7 and HT-29 in a concentration-dependent manner, whereas migration of these cells decreased after 48 and 72 h of ICI118,551 applications.

Conclusion: Beta2-AR antagonist seemed to be the most cytotoxic β-blocker on non-stimulated cancer cells. Propranolol and ICI118,551 were more effective than atenolol in inhibiting invasion and migration of non-stimulated MCF7 and HT-29 cells; ICI118,551 being the most potent. Concordantly, β2-selective blockage seemed to be more effective for non-stimulated cells. Effect of the selective β-AR antagonists showed variation depending on the concentration, incubation time, and histological origin of cells.

Keywords: 551; Atenolol; HT-29; HepG2; ICI118; MCF7; propranolol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / prevention & control*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists