Background: The use of nutraceuticals is gaining in popularity in human and canine oncology with a relatively limited understanding of the effects in the vastly different tumor types seen in canine oncology. We have previously shown that turmeric root (TE) and rosemary leaf (RE) extracts can work synergistically to reduce neoplastic cell growth, but the mechanisms are poorly understood and require further elucidation.
Results: Three different canine cell lines (C2 mastocytoma, and CMT-12 mammary carcinoma, D17 osteosarcoma) were treated with 6.3 μg mL-1 extract individually, or 3.1 μg mL-1 of each extract in combination based on studies showing synergy of these two extracts. Apoptosis, antioxidant effects, cellular accumulation of curcumin, and perturbation of signaling pathways were assessed. The TE + RE combination treatment resulted in Caspase 3/7 activation and apoptosis in all cell lines, beyond the effects of TE alone with the CMT-12 cell line being most susceptible. Both extracts had antioxidant effects with RE reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) by 40-50% and TE reducing ROS by 80-90%. In addition RE treatment enhanced the c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity in the C2 cell line and TE + RE exposure increased activated JNK by 4-5 times in the CMT-12 cell line. Upon further examination, it was found that RE treatment caused a significant increase in the cellular accumulation of curcumin by approximately 30% in the C2 and D17 cell lines, and by 4.8-fold in the CMT-12 cell line. This increase in intracellular curcumin levels may play a role in the synergy exhibited when using TE and RE in combination.
Conclusions: The use of RE in combination with TE induces a synergistic response to induce apoptosis which is better than either extract alone. This appears to be related to a variable increased TE uptake in cells and activation of pathways involved in the apoptotic response.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Canine cancer; Curcumin; Mammary carcinoma; Mastocytoma; Osteosarcoma; Rosemary.