Introduction: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most lethal human malignancies with a global alarming rate of incidence. The development of resistance against common chemotherapeutics such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) remains a big burden for CRC therapy. Therefore, we investigated the effects of melatonin on the increasing 5-FU- mediated apoptosis and its underlying mechanism in SW-480 CRC cell line.
Methods: The effects of melatonin and 5- FU, alone or in combination, on cell proliferation were evaluated using an MTT assay. Further, Annexin-V Flow cytometry was used for determining the effects of melatonin and 5-FU on the apoptosis of SW-480 cell lines. The expression levels of Bax, Bcl-2, pro-caspase-3/activated caspase 3, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (XIAP), and survivin were measured after 48 hours incubation with drugs. Cellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase were also evaluated.
Results: Melatonin and 5-FU significantly decreased the cell proliferation of SW-480 cells. Combination of 5-FU with melatonin significantly decreased the IC50 value of 5-FU from 100 μM to 50 μM. Moreover, combination therapy increased intracellular levels of ROS and suppressed antioxidant enzymatic activities (P < 0.05). Treatment with either melatonin or 5-FU resulted in the induction of apoptosis in comparison to control (P > 0.05). XIAP and survivin expression levels potently decreased after combination treatment with melatonin and 5-FU (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: We demonstrated that melatonin exerts a reversing effect on the resistance to apoptosis by targeting oxidative stress, XIAP and survivin in CRC cells. Therefore, more studies need for better understanding of underlying mechanisms for beneficial effects of combination of melatonin and 5-FU.
Keywords: Melatonin, 5-FU, XIAP, Survivin, Oxidative stress, Colorectal cancer