All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)-induced apoptosis is preceded by G1 arrest in human MCF-7 breast cancer cells

Published on Thursday, 28 May 2015


In this study the effects of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) on cell cycle and apoptosis of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells were investigated to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the antineoplastic potential of this retinoid in breast cancer.

The antiproliferative effect of ATRA was evaluated by DNA content measurements and dual-parameter flow cytometry of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation and of the expression of cell cycle-related proteins (Ki-67 as proliferation marker and statin as quiescence marker) vs DNA content.

Apoptosis was also studied by flow cytometry of either DNA content or Annexin V labelling. After 10(-6) M ATRA treatment, the fraction of S-phase cells decreased significantly, and cells accumulated in the G0/G1 range of DNA contents.

Dual-parameter flow cytograms showed a decrease in the percentage of Ki-67-labelled cells (after 10 days, only 20% of the cells were still positive for Ki-67 compared with 95% in controls), while the fraction of statin-positive cells increased slightly.

From 3 days of treatment onwards, apoptosis was found to occur.

These results show that ATRA-induced inhibition of MCF-7 cell growth is related to two mechanisms, i.e. the block of cell proliferation, mostly in a pre-S phase, and the induction of apoptosis.

These results should be taken into account when attempting to design treatment programmes that associate ATRA with antineoplastic compounds of different cell cycle specificity.



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See also All-Trans-Retinoic Acid (ATRA - analogues and/or derivatives).