Synergistic effect of honokiol and 5-fluorouracil on apoptosis of oral squamous cell carcinoma cells.
J Oral Pathol Med. 2016 Jul 28. Epub 2016 Jul 28. PMID: 27465776
BACKGROUND: 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is an essential chemotherapeutic agent for oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). However, toxic side effects have limited its role in OSCC therapy. The aim of this study was to explore whether combination therapy with 5-FU and honokiol (HNK), a small natural organic molecule shown to induce apoptosis in OSCC cells, could enhance the anticancer activity of 5-FU without notably increasing its toxicity.
METHODS: 5-FU and/or HNK were used to treat OSCC cells both in vitro and in vivo. The therapeutic effect and underlying mechanisms were evaluated by cell viability assay, flow cytometry, OSCC xenograft mouse model, and Western blot. Tumor tissue apoptosis was detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Toxicity was assessed following hematoxylin and eosin staining.
RESULTS: Exposure to HNK + 5-FU produced a synergistic cytotoxic effect on OSCC cells. Both HNK and 5-FU could induce apoptosis through the mitochondria-mediated intrinsic pathway, and their specific signaling pathways were different. In the mouse OSCC xenograft model, treatment with 5-FU + HNK substantively retarded tumor growth, as compared to treatment with either drug individually. TUNEL analysis further confirmed that the superior in vivo antitumor efficacy of 5-FU + HNK was associated with enhanced stimulation of cell apoptosis. Notably, HNK did not increase the toxicity of 5-FU.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that HNK and 5-FU exert a synergistic therapeutic effect on OSCC by inducing apoptosis. HNK might thus enhance the clinical therapeutic efficacy of 5-FU without increasing its toxicity.