Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Luteolin inhibits the Nrf2 signaling pathway and tumor growth in vivo.

PMID 24747074


Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is over-expressed in many types of tumor, promotes tumor growth, and confers resistance to anticancer therapy. Hence, Nrf2 is regarded as a novel therapeutic target in cancer. Previously, we reported that luteolin is a strong inhibitor of Nrf2 in vitro. Here, we showed that luteolin reduced the constitutive expression of NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 in mouse liver in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Further, luteolin inhibited the expression of antioxidant enzymes and glutathione transferases, decreasing the reduced glutathione in the liver of wild-type mice under both constitutive and butylated hydroxyanisole-induced conditions. In contrast, such distinct responses were not detected in Nrf2(-/-) mice. In addition, oral administration of luteolin, either alone or combined with intraperitoneal injection of the cytotoxic drug cisplatin, greatly inhibited the growth of xenograft tumors from non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line A549 cells grown subcutaneously in athymic nude mice. Cell proliferation, the expression of Nrf2, and antioxidant enzymes were all reduced in tumor xenograft tissues. Furthermore, luteolin enhanced the anti-cancer effect of cisplatin. Together, our findings demonstrated that luteolin inhibits the Nrf2 pathway in vivo and can serve as an adjuvant in the chemotherapy of NSCLC.