Plant Phenolics Ferulic Acid and P-Coumaric Acid Inhibit Colorectal Cancer Cell Proliferation through EGFR Down-Regulation

  • Roy, Nabarun (Distributed Information Centre, Kerala Agricultural University) ;
  • Narayanankutty, Arunaksharan (Amala Cancer Research Centre, University of Calicut) ;
  • Nazeem, PA (Distributed Information Centre, Kerala Agricultural University) ;
  • Valsalan, Ravisankar (Distributed Information Centre, Kerala Agricultural University) ;
  • Babu, TD (Amala Cancer Research Centre, University of Calicut) ;
  • Mathew, Deepu (Distributed Information Centre, Kerala Agricultural University)
  • Published : 2016.08.01


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) or bowel cancer is one of the most important cancer diseases, needing serious attention. The cell surface receptor gene human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) may have an important role in provoking CRC. In this pharmaceutical era, it is always attempted to identify plant-based drugs for cancer, which will have less side effects for human body, unlike the chemically synthesized marketed drugs having serious side effects. So, in this study the authors tried to assess the activity of two important plant compounds, ferulic acid (FA) and p-coumaric acid (pCA), on CRC. Materials and Methods: FA and pCA were tested for their cytotoxic effects on the human CRC cell line HCT 15 and also checked for the level of gene expression of EGFR by real time PCR analysis. Positive results were confirmed by in silico molecular docking studies using Discovery Studio (DS) 4.0. The drug parallel features of the same compounds were also assessed in silico. Results: Cytotoxicity experiments revealed that both the compounds were efficient in killing CRC cells on a controlled concentration basis. In addition, EGFR expression was down-regulated in the presence of the compounds. Docking studies unveiled that both the compounds were able to inhibit EGFR at its active site. Pharmacokinetic analysis of these compounds opened up their drug like behaviour. Conclusions: The findings of this study emphasize the importance of plant compounds for targeting diseases like CRC.


Supported by : Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Govt. of India


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