Gelam Honey and Ginger Potentiate the Anti Cancer Effect of 5-FU against HCT 116 Colorectal Cancer Cells

  • Hakim, Luqman (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) ;
  • Alias, Ekram (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) ;
  • Makpol, Suzana (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) ;
  • Ngah, Wan Zurinah Wan (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) ;
  • Morad, Nor Azian (Centre of Lipids and Engineering and Applied Research, Universiti Teknologi) ;
  • Yusof, Yasmin Anum Mohd (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)
  • Published : 2014.06.15


The development of chemopreventive approaches using a concoction of phytochemicals is potentially viable for combating many types of cancer including colon carcinogenesis. This study evaluated the anti-proliferative effects of ginger and Gelam honey and its efficacy in enhancing the anti-cancer effects of 5-FU (5-fluorouracil) against a colorectal cancer cell line, HCT 116. Cell viability was measured via MTS (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulphenyl)-2H-tetrazolium) assay showing ginger inhibiting the growth of HCT 116 cells more potently ($IC_{50}$ of 3mg/mL) in comparison to Gelam honey ($IC_{50}$ of 75mg/mL). Combined treatment of the two compounds (3mg/mL ginger+75mg/mL Gelam honey) synergistically lowered the $IC_{50}$ of Gelam honey to 22mg/mL. Combination with 35 mg/mL Gelam honey markedly enhanced 5-FU inhibiting effects on the growth of HCT 116 cells. Subsequent analysis on the induction of cellular apoptosis suggested that individual treatment of ginger and Gelam honey produced higher apoptosis than 5-FU alone. In addition, treatment with the combination of two natural compounds increased the apoptotic rate of HCT 116 cells dose-dependently while treatment of either ginger or Gelam honey combined with 5-FU only showed modest changes. Combination index analysis showed the combination effect of both natural compounds to be synergistic in their inhibitory action against HCT 116 colon cancer cells (CI 0.96 < 1). In conclusion, combined treatment of Gelam honey and ginger extract could potentially enhance the chemotherapeutic effect of 5-FU against colorectal cancer.


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