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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Fucoidan present in brown algae induces apoptosis of human colon cancer cells

Eun Ji Kim2, So Young Park1, Jae-Yong Lee23 and Jung Han Yoon Park124*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Hallym University, Chuncheon, 200-702, Korea

2 Center for Efficacy Assessment and Development of Functional Foods and Drugs, Hallym University, Chuncheon, 200-702, Korea

3 Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon, 200-702, Korea

4 Medical & Bio-Materials Research Center, Hallym University, Chuncheon, 200-702, Korea

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BMC Gastroenterology 2010, 10:96  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-10-96

Published: 22 August 2010

Abstract

Background

Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide found in brown algae; it has been shown to exhibit a number of biological effects, including anti-tumor effects. In this study, we evaluated the effects of fucoidan on apoptosis in HT-29 and HCT116 human colon cancer cells.

Methods

HT-29 and HCT116 cells were cultured with various concentrations of fucoidan (0 - 20 μg/mL). Apoptosis was assayed via Hoechst staining and Annexin V staining followed by flow cytometric analysis. Western blot analyses and JC-1 staining were conducted to determine the levels of apoptosis-regulating proteins and mitochondrial membrane permeability, respectively.

Results

Fucoidan induced substantial reductions in viable cell numbers and apoptosis of HT-29 and HCT116 cells in a dose-dependent manner. In HT-29 cells, fucoidan also increased the levels of cleaved caspases-8, -9, -7, and -3, and cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) levels. The levels of the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein and survivin were attenuated in the fucoidan-treated cells. Fucoidan was also shown to enhance mitochondrial membrane permeability, as well as the cytochrome c and Smac/Diablo release from the mitochondria. Fucoidan increased the levels of the Bak and truncated Bid proteins, but reduced the levels of Mcl-1. Additionally, fucoidan increased the levels of the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, Fas and death receptor 5 proteins. The caspase-8 and -9 inhibitors Z-IETD-FMK and Z-LEHD-FMK induced a reduction in fucoidan-mediated apoptosis. Caspase-8 inhibitor inhibited the fucoidan-induced cleavage of Bid, caspases-9 and -3, and PARP.

Conclusion

The findings of this study indicate that fucoidan induces apoptosis in HT-29 and HCT116 human colon cancer cells, and that this phenomenon is mediated via both the death receptor-mediated and mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathways. These results suggest that fucoidan may prove useful in the development of a colon cancer-preventive protocol.