Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology

Phenethyl isothiocyanate suppresses cancer stem cell properties in vitro and in a xenograft model.

PMID 28545668


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subset of cells within the bulk of a tumor that have the ability to self-renew and differentiate, and are thus associated with cancer invasion, metastasis, and recurrence. Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is a natural compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and is used as a cancer chemopreventive agent; however, its effects on CSCs are little known. To evaluate the effect of PEITC on CSCs in this study by examining CSC properties. NCCIT human embryonic carcinoma cells were treated with PEITC, and the expression of pluripotency factors Oct4, Sox-2, and Nanog were evaluated by luciferase assay and western blot. Effect of PEITC on self-renewal capacity and clonogenicity were assessed with the sphere formation, soft agar assay, and clonogenic assay in an epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM)-expressing CSC model derived from HCT116 colon cancer cells using a cell sorting system. The effect of PEITC was also investigated in a mouse xenograft model obtained by injecting nude mice with EpCAM-expressing cells. We found that PEITC treatment suppressed expression of the all three pluripotency factors in the NCCIT cells, in which pluripotency factors are highly expressed. Moreover, PEITC suppressed the self-renewal capacity and clonogenicity in the EpCAM-expressing CSC model. EpCAM was used as a specific CSC marker in this study. Importantly, PEITC markedly suppressed both tumor growth and expression of three pluripotency factors in a mouse xenograft model. These results demonstrate that PEITC might be able to slow down or prevent cancer recurrence by suppressing CSC stemness.

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