Cinnamic Acid (CINN) Induces Apoptosis and Proliferation in Human Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Cells

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2016;40(3-4):589-596. doi: 10.1159/000452572. Epub 2016 Nov 25.


Background/aims: CINN is the main ingredient of the traditional Chinese medicine cinnamon. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of CINN on the proliferation and apoptosis of NPC cells and to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Materials and methods: CNE2 human NPC cells were treated with various CINN concentrations. The effects of CINN on the proliferation and apoptosis of CNE2 NPC cells were examined using the MTT assay and flow cytometric analysis. Additionally, western blotting was performed to analyze the expression of a number of cell cycle- and apoptosis-related proteins.

Results: The proliferation of CNE2 cells was significantly inhibited after treatment with different CINN concentrations for various lengths of time. The inhibitory effect of CINN was concentration-and time-dependent. Flow cytometric analysis showed that 2 mmol/L CINN displayed a significant apoptosis-inducing effect. The western blot analysis results showed that KLF6, Fas-L, Bax, P53 and caspase-3 protein expression was drastically increased in the CNE2 cells after treatment with 2 mmol/L CINN, whereas Bcl-2 and cyclin D1 protein expression was markedly reduced.

Conclusion: CINN inhibits the proliferation and induces the apoptosis of CNE2 cells. Therefore, CINN possesses a potential anti-tumor effect.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Shape / drug effects
  • Cinnamates / pharmacology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Cinnamates
  • cinnamic acid