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Effects of Fucoidan and Chemotherapeutic Agent Combinations on Malignant and Non-malignant Breast Cell Lines

[ Vol. 18 , Issue. 9 ]


Aisha Abudabbus, Jelili A. Badmus, Salem Shalaweh, Rolene Bauer and Donavon Hiss*   Pages 748 - 757 ( 10 )


Objectives: Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women in both developed and Third World countries. Fucoidan is a natural plant metabolite produced by brown seaweeds with proven anticancer potential. This study determined the cytotoxic, apoptotic and cell cycle effects of fucoidan alone and in combination with first-line anticancer drugs (cisplatin, doxorubicin and taxol) in MCF-7 breast cancer cells and non-malignant MCF-12A breast epithelial cells as control. </P><P> Methods: Cytotoxicity was evaluated using the MTT reduction assay. Cell cycle distribution and apoptosis were assessed by flow cytometry using Annexin VFITC/PI and Hoechst 33342 staining, and caspases-3, -7 and -9 activation. </P><P> Results: Fucoidan alone was significantly more cytotoxic to MCF-7 breast cancer cells compared to the MCF-12A non-cancerous breast epithelial cell line. In MCF-7 cells, the presence of fucoidan caused cell cycle arrest at G1 with accumulation of cells in the sub-G1 phase with the activation of caspases-3,-7 and -9. Furthermore, combination of fucoidan with the standard chemotherapeutic agents-cisplatin, doxorubicin and taxol-significantly enhanced the cytotoxicity of these drugs and accumulation of cells in the G2/M and sub-G1 phases, and induction of apoptosis. No significant differences were observed between fucoidan-treated and untreated MCF-12A cells with respect to cytotoxicity and cell cycle distribution profiles. By contrast, in non-cancerous MCF-12A cells, fucoidan attenuated the toxicity of doxorubicin and cisplatin in combination by increasing their IC50 values. This effect was not demonstrated with the taxol combination. </P><P> Conclusions: Fucoidan is an effective antitumor agent, either alone or in combination with cisplatin, doxorubicin and taxol in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Drug combinations that discriminate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells afford a plausible and viable strategy of attaining therapeutic efficacy and avoiding possible toxicity and side effects. These findings suggest that fucoidan is a promising candidate for cancer combination therapies.


Fucoidan, MCF-7 breast cancer cells, non-malignant MCF-12A breast epithelial cells, apoptosis, caspases, cytotoxicity, cisplatin, doxorubicin, taxol.


Department of Medical Biosciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Department of Medical Biosciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Department of Medical Biosciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Algae Research Group, Launch Laboratory, Stellenbosch University, Department of Medical Biosciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville

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