Background: Breast Cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide and a major cause of death among women. Although chemotherapeutic agents remain the keystones in cancer therapy, significant side effects have failed to provide a safe and tolerable treatment for cancer patients. Dietary antioxidant vitamins were extensively investigated over the past years and their relevance in cancer chemotherapy remains to be elucidated.
Objective: In the current study, we aimed to investigate the anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of combining γ-tocotrienol, a member of the vitamin E family, with the chemotherapeutic drug etoposide in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines.
Methods: The antiproliferative effect of etoposide combined with γ-tocotrienol was measured using MTS viability reagent. The pro-apoptotic effect was elucidated through Cell Death ELISA and dual Annexin V/PI staining followed by flow cytometric analysis.
Results: Our results showed that etoposide significantly decreased the cell growth of both cell lines with MDA-MB-231 cells being more sensitive to etoposide treatment than MCF-7. Moreover, the simultaneous treatment of both breast cancer cell lines with low doses of γ-tocotrienol and etoposide induced a synergistic antiproliferative effect (CI<1). Furthermore, the combination therapy significantly increased the percentage of total apoptotic cells in the MDA-MB-231 cell line and the degree of DNA fragmentation as compared to treatment with either compound alone.
Conclusion: In conclusion, our results provide evidence for the profound anti-tumorigenic effect of combined etoposide and γ-tocotrienol in the breast cancer cell lines.