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Effects of Rapamycin on Cell Apoptosis in MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cells

  • Published : 2015.01.22

Abstract

Background: Rapamycin is an effective anti-angiogenic drug. However, the mode of its action remains unclear. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to elucidate the antitumor mechanism of rapamycin, hypothetically via apoptotic promotion, using MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Materials and Methods: MCF-7 cells were plated at a density of $1{\times}10^5$ cells/well in 6-well plates. After 24h, cells were treated with a series of concentrations of rapamycin while only adding DMEM medium with PEG for the control regiment and grown at $37^{\circ}C$, 5% $CO_2$ and 95% air for 72h. Trypan blue was used to determine the cell viability and proliferation. Untreated and rapamycin-treated MCF-7 cells were also examined for morphological changes with an inverted-phase contrast microscope. Alteration in cell morphology was ascertained, along with a stage in the cell cycle and proliferation. In addition, cytotoxicity testing was performed using normal mouse breast mammary pads. Results: Our results clearly showed that rapamycin exhibited inhibitory activity on MCF-7 cell lines. The $IC_{50}$ value of rapamycin on the MCF-7 cells was determined as $0.4{\mu}g/ml$ (p<0.05). Direct observation by inverted microscopy demonstrated that the MCF-7 cells treated with rapamycin showed characteristic features of apoptosis including cell shrinkage, vascularization and autophagy. Cells underwent early apoptosis up to 24% after 72h. Analysis of the cell cycle showed an increase in the G0G1 phase cell population and a corresponding decrease in the S and G2M phase populations, from 81.5% to 91.3% and 17.3% to 7.9%, respectively. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that rapamycin may potentially act as an anti-cancer agent via the inhibition of growth with some morphological changes of the MCF-7 cancer cells, arrest cell cycle progression at G0/G1 phase and induction of apoptosis in late stage of apoptosis. Further studies are needed to further characterize the mode of action of rapamycin as an anti-cancer agent.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : Universiti Sains Malaysia

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