Formononetin and metformin act synergistically to inhibit growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells in vitro.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2019 Jan ;109:2084-2089. Epub 2018 Nov 26. PMID: 30551465
Many breast cancer patients suffer from obvious side effects induced by chemotherapy. Formononetin (FM), one kind ingredient of Chinese herbal medicine, has been suggested to inhibit MCF-7 breast cancer cells. And recently metformin (MET) has gained more attention as a potential anti-cancer drug. The aim of this study was to investigate the synergistic effects of FM and MET on the proliferation of MCF-7 cells and to clarify the possible molecular mechanism involved. MCF-7 cells were treated with various concentrations of FM (40 and 80 μM) or FM (40 and 80 μM) combined with MET (150 μM) for 48 h. Cell proliferation was tested by an methyl tetrazolium (MTT) (3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) assay. The percentage of apoptotic cells was measured by flow cytometry. The expression level of b-cell lymphoma/leukemia-2 (bcl-2) mRNA was examined by RT-PCR, while the expression levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinases (p-ERK1/2) and bcl-2 protein were detected by Western blotting. Compared with untreated cells, 40 μM and 80 μM FM efficiently inhibited proliferation and increased apoptosis in MCF-7 cells. Additionally, 40 μM and 80 μM FM greatly downregulated bcl-2 mRNA expression when compared with untreated cells. Furthermore, the protein expression of bcl-2 and p-ERK1/2 was significantly reduced by 40 μM and 80 μM FM. The cytotoxic effect of FM was more remarkable when 150 μM MET was added. Taken together, the combinational use of FM and MET enhanced cell growth inhibition, and the induction of apoptosis in MCF-7 cells mediated by the ERK1/2 signaling pathway.