Cytotoxicity of gemcitabine enhanced by polyphenolics from Aronia melanocarpa in pancreatic cancer cell line AsPC-1

J Clin Pathol. 2014 Nov;67(11):949-54. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2013-202075. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Aims: Extending work with brain tumours, the hypothesis that micronutrients may usefully augment anticancer regimens, chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) extract was tested to establish whether it has pro-apoptotic effects in AsPC-1, an established human pancreatic cell line, and whether it potentiates cytotoxicity in combination with gemcitabine. Pancreatic cancer was chosen as a target, as its prognosis remains dismal despite advances in therapy.

Methods: An MTT (3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-Diphenyltetrazolium Bromide) assay was used to assess the growth of the single pancreatic cancer cell line AsPC-1, alone and in comparison or combination with gemcitabine. This was backed up by flow cytometric DRAQ7 cell viability analysis. TUNEL assays were also carried out to investigate pro-apoptotic properties as responsible for the effects of chokeberry extract.

Results: Chokeberry extract alone and its IC75 value (1 µg/mL) in combination with gemcitabine were used to assess the growth of the AsPC-1 cell line. Gemcitabine in combination with chokeberry extract was more effective than gemcitabine alone. TUNEL assays showed apoptosis to be a mechanism occurring at 1 µg/mL concentration of chokeberry, with apoptotic bodies detected by both colourimetric and fluorometric methods.

Conclusions: The implication of this study, using single cancer cell line, is that chemotherapy (at least with gemcitabine) might be usefully augmented with the use of micronutrients such as chokeberry extract.


Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colorimetry
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gemcitabine
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Photinia* / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Polyphenols / isolation & purification
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Polyphenols
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Gemcitabine