Annurca apple polyphenol extract selectively kills MDA-MB-231 cells through ROS generation, sustained JNK activation and cell growth and survival inhibition

Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 10;9(1):13045. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49631-x.


Polyphenols represent the most studied class of nutraceuticals that can be therapeutics for a large spectrum of diseases, including cancer. In this study, we investigated for the first time the antitumor activities of polyphenol extract from Annurca apple (APE) in MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast cancer cells, and we explored the underlying mechanisms. APE selectively inhibited MDA-MB-231 cell viability and caused G2/M phase arrest associated with p27 and phospho-cdc25C upregulation and with p21 downregulation. APE promoted reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in MDA-MB-231 cells while it acted as antioxidant in non-tumorigenic MCF10A cells. We demonstrated that ROS generation represented the primary step of APE antitumor activity as pretreatment with antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) prevented APE-induced G2/M phase arrest, apoptosis, and autophagy. APE downregulated Dusp-1 and induced a significant increase in JNK/c-Jun phosphorylation that were both prevented by NAC. Moreover, downregulation of JNK by its specific inhibitor SP600125 significantly diminished the anticancer activity of APE indicating that ROS generation and sustained JNK activation represented the main underlying mechanism of APE-induced cell death. APE also inhibited AKT activation and downregulated several oncoproteins, such as NF-kB, c-myc, and β-catenin. In light of these results, APE may be an attractive candidate for drug development against triple negative breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chlorogenic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • G2 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tannins / pharmacology*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Flavonoids
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tannins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • apple polyphenol extract
  • Chlorogenic Acid
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases