Eugenol can be separated from the oil extract of clove bud, and has many pharmacological functions such as anticancer and transdermal absorption. HER2/PI3K-AKT is a key signaling pathway in the development of breast cancer. In this study, 80 μM eugenol could significantly inhibit the proliferation of HER-2 positive MCF-10AT cells and the inhibition rate was up to 32.8%, but had no obvious inhibitory effect on MCF-7 and MCF-10A cells with HER2 weak expression. Eugenol also significantly induced human breast precancerous lesion MCF-10AT cell apoptosis and cell cycle S-phase arrest, but the biological effects nearly disappeared after HER2 over-expression through transfecting pcDNA3.1-HER2. In MCF-10AT cells treated by 180 μM eugenol, the protein expressions of HER2, AKT, PDK1, p85, Bcl2, NF-κB, Bad and Cyclin D1 were decreased and the decreased rates were respectively 63.0%, 60.0%, 52.9%, 62.9%, 37.1%, 47.2%, 61.7%, 59.1%, while the p21, p27 and Bax expression were increased by 4.48-, 4.76- and 2.57-fold respectively. In the rat models of breast precancerous lesion, 1 mg eugenol for external use significantly inhibited the progress of breast precancerous lesion and the occurrence rate of breast precancerous lesions and invasive carcinomas was decreased by about 30.5%. Furthermore eugenol for external (1 mg) markedly decreased the protein expressions of HER2 (62.9%), AKT (58.6%), PDK1 (56.4%), p85 (54.3%), Bcl2 (59.3%), NF-κB (65.7%), Bad (64.0%), Cyclin D1 (43.0%), while p21, p27 and Bax protein expressions were respectively increased 1.83-, 2.52- and 2.51-fold. The results showed eugenol could significantly inhibit the development of breast precancerous lesions by blocking HER2/PI3K-AKT signaling network. So eugenol may be a promising external drug for breast precancerous lesions.
Keywords: HER2/PI3K-AKT; breast precancerous lesion; cell apoptosis; eugenol; external use.