There is a lack of consensus on whether the role of folate in cancer cells is protective or harmful. The use of folates in combination with cancer-targeting therapeutic regimens requires detailed information to ensure their safe and proper use. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of folic acid (FA) in combination with the chemotherapeutic compounds doxorubicin (DXR), camptothecin (CPT) and methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) on the growth of MCF-7 cells. The data generated from the RTCA assays demonstrated that FA did not affect proliferation in MCF-7 cells treated with DXR and CPT; however, FA reduced the efficacy of MMS treatment. RTCA data also confirmed that DXR and CPT exert their cytotoxic effects in a time-dependent manner and that CPT induced a significantly greater decrease in MCF-7 cell proliferation compared with DXR. The MTT assay failed to detect a reduction in cell proliferation in cells treated with MMS. We quantified the mRNA expression levels of genes associated with cellular stress response, cell cycle and apoptosis pathways using RT-qPCR. The addition of FA to DXR or CPT promoted a similar shift in the gene expression profile of MCF-7 cells compared with cells treated with DXR or CPT without FA; however, this shift did not alter the bioactivity of these drugs. Rather, it indicated that these drugs promoted cell death by alternative mechanisms. In contrast, the addition of FA to MMS reduced the efficacy of the drug without changing the gene expression profile. None of the genes encoding folate receptors that were analyzed were differentially expressed in cells treated with or without FA. In conclusion, supplementation with 450 μM FA was not cytotoxic to MCF-7 cells. However, the addition of FA to anti-cancer drugs must be performed cautiously as the properties of FA might lead to a reduction in drug efficacy.
Xavier, M. A., de Oliveira, M. T., Baranoski, A., & Mantovani, M. S. (2018). Effects of folic acid on the antiproliferative efficiency of doxorubicin, camptothecin and methyl methanesulfonate in MCF-7 cells by mRNA endpoints. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, 25(8), 1568–1576. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2016.02.005