Effect of Procyanidin-rich Extract from Natural Cocoa Powder on Cellular Viability, Cell Cycle Progression, and Chemoresistance in Human Epithelial Ovarian Carcinoma Cell Lines

Pharmacogn Mag. 2016 May;12(Suppl 2):S109-15. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.182164. Epub 2016 May 11.


Background: Over the last 400 years, cocoa and chocolate have been described as having potential medicinal value, being consumed as a beverage or eaten as food. Concentration-dependant, antiproliferation, and cytotoxic effects of some of their polyphenolic constituents have been demonstrated against various cancers. Such an effect remains to be demonstrated in ovarian cancer.

Objective: To investigate the effect of cocoa procyanidins against ovarian cancer in vitro using OAW42 and OVCAR3 cell lines.

Materials and methods: Cocoa procyanidins were extracted and enriched from non alkalized cocoa powder. The polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity were determined. Effect on cell viability was determined after the treatment with ≤1000 μg/mL cocoa procyanidin-rich extract on OAW42 and OVCAR3 and normal human dermal fibroblasts. Similarly, chemosensitization effect was determined by pretreating cancer cell lines with extract followed by doxorubicin hydrochloride treatment. The effect of treatment on cell cycle and P-glycoprotein (P-gp) expression was determined using flow cytometry.

Results: The cocoa extract showed high polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity. Treatment with extract caused cytotoxicity and chemosensitization in OAW42 and OVCAR3 cell lines. Normal dermal fibroblasts showed an increase in cell viability post treatment with extract. Treatment with extract affected the cell cycle and an increasing percentage of cells in hypodiploid sub-G1/G0 phase was observed. Treatment of OVCAR3 with the extract caused reduction of P-gp expression.

Conclusion: Cocoa procyanidins were found to be selectively cytotoxic against epithelial ovarian cancer, interfered with the normal cell cycle and sensitized cells to subsequent chemotherapeutic treatment. Chemosensitization was found to be associated with P-gp reduction in OVCAR3 cells.

Summary: Among the naturally occurring flavonoids, procyanidins have been shown to be effective against cancersNon alkalized cocoa powder is one of the richest sources of procyanidinsCocoa procyanidin-rich extract (CPRE) caused cytotoxicity and chemosensitization in ovarian carcinoma cell lines OAW42 and OVCAR3CPRE affected normal cell cycle progressionCPRE also downregulated P-glycoprotein, which mediates chemoresistance in multidrug-resistant OVCAR3 cell line. Abbreviations used: P-gp: P-glycoprotein, CPRE: Cocoa procyanidin rich extract, DMAC: 4-dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde, DPPH: Diphenylpicrylhydrazyl, ABTS: 2,2';-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid), PI: Propidium iodide, FITC: Fluorescein isothiocyanate, MTT: 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, TLC: Thin layer chromatography, HPTLC: High-performance thin layer chromatography.

Keywords: Chemosensitization; P-glycoprotein; cocoa procyanidins; epithelial ovarian cancer.