Author(s): Chiao C, Carothers AM, Grunberger D, Solomon G, Preston GA,
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Abstract Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), which is derived from the propolis of bee hives, was shown previously to block tumor promoter- and carcinogen-generated oxidative processes in several assays and to engender differential toxicity to some transformed cells. To study the mechanisms of CAPE-induced differential cytotoxicity, nontumorigenic rat embryo fibroblasts (CREF) and adenovirus (type 5)-transformed CREF cells (Wt3A) were used. As shown by nucleosomal-length DNA degradation, morphological alterations by electron microscopy, in situ labeling of 3'-OH ends, and the appearance of a hypodiploid cell population by bivariant flow cytometry, cell death induced by CAPE in the transformed Wt3A cells was apoptosis. Under the same CAPE treatment conditions, CREF cells transiently growth arrested. Both CREF and Wt3A cells were radioresistant, suggesting deficiencies in the proteins controlling the G1 checkpoint. To explore possible mechanisms of CAPE-induced apoptosis, it was determined whether CAPE-induced toxicity was influenced by the redox state of the cells. Depletion of cellular glutathione (GSH) with buthionine sulfoximine before CAPE treatment caused CREF sensitive to CAPE-induced cell death. GSH levels were also determined in CAPE-treated CREF and Wt3A cells. The GSH level in the CREF cells was unaffected by CAPE, whereas the Wt3A cells showed a significant reduction. When the GSH levels were increased in Wt3A cells by treatment with the reducing agent, N-acetyl-cysteine before CAPE treatment, the Wt3A cells were partially rescued. Furthermore, Bcl2, which protects cells from oxidative stress, had a protective effect against CAPE-induced apoptosis in Wt3A cells. Finally, the sensitivity of Wt3A cells to a known oxidant, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), was examined. Wt3A cells were killed by H2O2-induced apoptosis, whereas CREF cells remained resistant. When Wt3A cells were treated with catalase, a cellular enzyme that inactivates H2O2, CAPE-induced apoptosis in Wt3A cells was reduced, further proving that Wt3A cells were more sensitive than CREF cells to oxidative stress. These results suggest that CAPE can modulate the redox state of cells. Sensitivity of cells to CAPE-induced cell death may be determined by the loss of normal redox state regulation in transformed cells.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy