Silibinin-induced apoptosis and downregulation of microRNA-21 and MicroRNA-155 in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells

M.M. Zadeh, N. Motamed, N. Ranji, M. Majidi, Fahimeh Falahi

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    51 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2016 Korean Breast Cancer Society. All rights reserved. Purpose: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have received much attention owing to their aberrant expression in various stages of cancer. In many biological processes, miRNAs negatively regulate gene expression, and may be useful in therapeutic strategies. The present study evaluated the effects of silibinin (silybin), a natural flavonoid, on miRNA expression and attempted to elucidate therapeutic targets in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Methods: The rates of cell proliferation and apoptosis were determined in silibinintreated and untreated MCF-7 cells. Furthermore, the expression levels of miR-21 and miR-155 were measured in MCF-7 cells after incubation with silibinin (100 μg/mL), and the putative targets of the miRNAs within the apoptotic pathways were predicted using bioinformatic approaches. The expression levels of some of these targets were evaluated by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Results: Silibinin induced apoptosis in MCF-7 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. qRT-PCR analysis revealed a decrease in miR-21 and miR- 155 expression levels in silibinin-treated cells relative to the levels in the untreated cells. Potential miR-21 and miR-155 targets within the apoptotic pathways, such as CASP-9, BID, APAF-1, CASP-3, CASP-8, and PDCD4, were predicted by in silico analysis. qRT-PCR analysis showed upregulation of some of these potential targets including caspase-9 (CASP-9) and BID after silibinin treatment for 48 hours. Conclusion: Our results suggest a correlation between the expression of miR-21 and miR-155, and MCF-7 cell proliferation. The antiproliferative activity of silibinin may partly be attributable to the downregulation of miR-21 and miR-155, and the upregulation of their apoptotic targets. Furthermore, the upregulation of CASP-9 and BID indicates that silibinin induces apoptosis through both the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-52
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Breast Cancer
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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