Non-addictive opium alkaloids selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells compared to normal cells

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© 2015 Afzali et al.; licensee BioMed Central.Background: Cytotoxic effects of some of the members of papaveraceae family have been reported in Iranian folk medicine. Recent reports has indicated that alkaloids fraction of opium may be responsible for its cytotoxic effect; however, the mechanism of this effect is not fully understood. This study has been designed to investigate the selective cytotoxic, genotoxic and also apoptosis induction effects of noscapine, papaverine and narceine, three non-addictable opium alkaloids, on HT29, T47D and HT1080 cancer cell lines. Mouse NIH3T3 cell line was chosen to present non-cancerous cells and Doxorubicin was selected as the positive control. Methods: Cells were treated by different concentrations of Noscapine, Papaverine, Narceine and doxorubicin; viability was assessed by MTT assay. The genotoxicity and apoptosis induction were tested with comet assay and Annexin-V affinity when the concentration of each these drugs is less than its IC50. In addition, the DNA damage and caspase activity of the T47D cells were examined and the results were compared. Results: This study noted the cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of noscapine and papaverine, specifically on cancerous cell lines. Furthermore, papaverine induces apoptosis in all studied cancer cell lines and noscapine showed this effect in T47D and HT29 cells but not in NIH-3 T3 cells as noncancerous cell line. narceine also showed genototoxicity in the studied cell lines at its IC50 concentration. Conclusions: This experiment suggests that noscapine and papaverine may be of use in cancer treatment due to their specific cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. However, further in vivo studies are needed to confirm its usefulness in cancer treatment.




Afzali, M., Ghaeli, P., Khanavi, M., Parsa, M., Montazeri, H., Ghahremani, M. H., & Ostad, S. N. (2015). Non-addictive opium alkaloids selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells compared to normal cells. DARU, Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 23(1).

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