Methyleugenol and selected oxidative metabolites affect DNA-Damage signalling pathways and induce apoptosis in human colon tumour HT29 cells

Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Oct;108(Pt A):267-275. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.08.014. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Previously the food carcinogen methyleugenol was found to be cytotoxic and genotoxic in multiple cell lines and in primary hepatocytes. In this study, the question addressed was whether methyleugenol and the selected oxidative metabolites, 1'-hydroxymethyleugenol, methyleugenol-2',3'-epoxide and 3'-oxomethylisoeugenol trigger a DNA damage response in the human colon carcinoma HT29 cell line. Most notably investigations by flow cytometry revealed that the metabolites induce an accumulation of HT29 cells in the G2 phase of the cell cycle. DNA damage response is characterised by a time-delayed phosphorylation of ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia, mutated)/ATR (ATM- and Rad3-related) kinases and checkpoint kinase 1 after 2 h of incubation, and the tumour suppressor protein p53 only after 24 h of incubation. The test compounds induced apoptotic cell death indicated by cleavage of caspase 3 and poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase after a prolonged incubation time up to 72 h. In addition, activation of ATM/ATR-signalling cascade might contribute to apoptosis induction to a certain extent. However, clarification of this relationship awaits experimental confirmation.

Keywords: ATM/ATR-Signalling; Alkenylbenzenes; Caspase 3/PARP cleavage; Cell cycle; Food carcinogens.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Eugenol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Eugenol / chemistry
  • Eugenol / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • methyleugenol
  • Eugenol
  • Caspase 3