Cell Survival, Apoptosis and AMPK-COX-2 Signaling Pathway of Mammary Tumor Cells after Genistein Treatment Combined with Estrogen

  • Lee, Yun-Kyoung (Dept of Food and Nutrition, Hannam University Daedeok Valley Campus) ;
  • Hwang, Jin-Taek (Korea Food Research Institute) ;
  • Kim, Young-Min (Dept of Biological Sciences, Hannam University Daedeok Valley Campus) ;
  • Park, Ock-Jin (Dept of Food and Nutrition, Hannam University Daedeok Valley Campus)
  • Published : 2007.12.31


Genistein is an active component of legumes and other related food shown to be associated with prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer through inducing signaling pathways. Treatment of genistein resulted in the induction of apoptosis in the cultured cancer cells. This induction of apoptosis was demonstrated by the Tunel assay in these cells. Unveiling the potential of genistein in cytotoxicity via apoptosis when it is treated with estrogen can predict the therapeutic capability of genistein in breast cancers in the presence of endogenous estrogen. We have found that apoptosis induced by genistein treatment in the presence of estrogen is agonistic or antagonistic depending on the concentrations and treatment periods applied in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. For the suppression of cell survival, 24 hr of treatment was required to induce a synergistic agonistic response between estrogen and genistein at low concentrations of genistein. After this period, the agonistic pattern of genistein to estrogen disappeared. The decrement of COX-2 expression in MCF-7 cells treated with genistein was accompanied with the activation of AMPK only at a high concentration of genistein. This association between AMPK activation and down-regulation of COX-2 by genistein was dampened in the presence of estrogen. It was also demonstrated that genistein and estrogen regulate cell survival and apoptosis by modulating p53 and caspase-3 in the opposite direction. These results suggest that genistein has the potential to control breast cancer development, and co-treatment with estrogen can cause agonistic or antagonistic action on breast cancer cell control.


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