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Enhanced anticancer effects of low-dose curcumin with non-invasive pulsed electric field on PANC-1 cells

Authors Lu CH, Lin SH, Hsieh CH, Chen WT, Chao CY

Received 22 February 2018

Accepted for publication 4 June 2018

Published 10 August 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 4723—4732

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OTT.S166264

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Jianmin Xu


Chueh-Hsuan Lu,1,2 Shu-Hui Lin,2 Chih-Hsiung Hsieh,1,2 Wei-Ting Chen,1,2 Chih-Yu Chao1–3

1Department of Physics, Lab for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China; 2Biomedical and Molecular Imaging Center, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China; 3Institute of Applied Physics, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

Background: Pulsed electric field (PEF) has been considered as a cell permeability enhancing agent for cancer treatment. Nevertheless, application of PEF for conventional electrochemotherapy is usually at high intensity, and contact or even invasive electrodes are typically used, which may cause unwanted side effects. In this study, a non-invasive way of applying low intensity, non-contact PEF was adopted to study its combination effect with herb, curcumin, against pancreatic cancer cells and the mechanism involved.
Methods: The pancreatic cancer PANC-1 cells were treated with curcumin and PEF alone or in combination, and MTT assay was used to determine the viability of PANC-1 cells. Apoptosis and uptake of curcumin were analyzed by microscopy and flow cytometry. Western blot was further performed to evaluate the expression of apoptotic proteins.
Results: Our results demonstrated that PEF synergized with curcumin to inhibit the proliferation of PANC-1 cells in a field strength- and dose-dependent manner and caused apoptotic death of PANC-1 cells. The apoptotic induction of combination treatment was characterized by an increase in Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, and cleavage of caspase-8, -9, and -3. Moreover, the increase of curcumin uptake via electro-endocytosis was clearly observed in the cells following the exposure of PEF.
Conclusion: We show for the first time that a non-contact approach using low intensity electric field in a pulsed waveform could enhance the anticancer effect of low-dose curcumin on PANC-1 cells through triggering both extrinsic and intrinsic pathways. The findings highlight the potential of this alternative treatment, non-invasive electric field and curcumin, to increase therapeutic efficacy with minimum cytotoxicity and side effects, which may provide a new aspect of cancer treatment in combination of PEF and other anticancer agents.

Keywords: pulsed electric field, curcumin, combination treatment, synergistic effect, pancreatic cancer

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