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Abstract Title:

Vanillin downregulates NNMT and attenuates NNMT‑related resistance to 5‑fluorouracil via ROS‑induced cell apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells.

Abstract Source:

Oncol Rep. 2021 Jun ;45(6). Epub 2021 Apr 28. PMID: 33907844

Abstract Author(s):

Guoli Li, Beibei Kong, Qingchao Tong, Yejia Li, Lifen Chen, Jin Zeng, Haitao Yu, Xinyou Xie, Jun Zhang

Article Affiliation:

Guoli Li


Chemoresistance is the main cause of poor prognosis in colorectal cancer (CRC). Nicotinamide N‑methyltransferase (NNMT) is a metabolic enzyme that is upregulated in various tumor types. It has been reported that NNMT inhibits apoptosis and enhances resistance to 5‑fluorouracil (5‑Fu) via inhibition of the apoptosis signal regulating kinase 1 (ASK1)‑p38 MAPK pathway in CRC cells. Anatural product library was screened, and it was found that vanillin, also known as 4‑hydroxy‑3‑methoxybenzaldehyde, a plant secondary metabolite found in several essential plant oils, mainly,, and, may be a promising anticancer compound targeted to NNMT. The aim of the present study was to explore the effect of vanillin on promoting apoptosis and attenuating NNMT‑induced resistance to 5‑Fu in CRC. Lentiviral vectors of short hairpin RNA and small interfering RNA were transfected into HT‑29 cells to construct NNMT‑knockdown HT‑29 cell lines. Vectors containing an open reading frame of NNMT were stably transfected into SW480 cells to induce NNMT overexpression in SW480 cell lines. Vanillin was found to inhibit the mRNA and protein expression levels of NNMT following the inhibition of NNMT activity in HT‑29 cell lines. Vanillin was able to reverse NNMT‑induced increased cell proliferation, decreased cell apoptosis and resistance to 5‑Fu by inhibiting NNMT expression. Furthermore, it increased cell apoptosis by activating the ASK1‑p38 MAPK pathway, which could be inhibited by NNMT. In addition, vanillin increased cell apoptosis by promoting mitochondrial damage and reactive oxygen species., the combination of vanillin with 5‑Fu yielded a notable synergy in inhibiting tumor growth and inducing apoptosis. Considering that vanillin is an important flavor and aromatic component used in foods worldwide, vanillin is deemed to be a promising anticancer candidate by inhibiting NNMT and may attenuate NNMT‑induced resistanceto 5‑Fu in human CRC therapy with few side effects.

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