Pulsed electromagnetic field potentiates etoposide-induced MCF-7 cell death

BMB Rep. 2021 Oct 22;5445. Online ahead of print.


Etoposide is a chemotherapeutic medication used to treat various types of cancer, including breast cancer. It is established that pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy can enhance the effects of anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agents. In this study, we investigated whether PEMFs influence the anti-cancer effects of etoposide in MCF-7 cells and determined the signal pathways affected by PEMFs. We observed that co-treatment with etoposide and PEMFs led to a decrease in viable cells compared with cells solely treated with etoposide. PEMFs elevated the etoposide-induced PARP cleavage and caspase-7/9 activation and enhanced the etoposide-induced down-regulation of survivin and up-regulation of Bax. PEMF also increased the etoposide-induced activation of DNA damage-related molecules. In addition, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) level was slightly elevated during etoposide treatment and significantly increased during co-treatment with etoposide and PEMF. Moreover, treatment with ROS scavenger restored the PEMF-induced decrease in cell viability in etoposide-treated MCF-7 cells. These results combined indicate that PEMFs enhance etoposide-induced cell death by increasing ROS induction-DNA damage-caspase-dependent apoptosis.

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