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Open Access Research article

Epigallocathechin gallate, polyphenol present in green tea, inhibits stem-like characteristics and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in nasopharyngeal cancer cell lines

Chien-Hung Lin12, Yao-An Shen3, Peir-Haur Hung4, Yuan-Bin Yu5 and Yann-Jang Chen167*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Department of Pediatrics, Zhongxing Branch, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

4 Department of Internal Medicine, Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chia-yi Christian Hospital, Chia-yi, Taiwan

5 Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

6 Department of Pediatrics, Renai Branch, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

7 Department of Life Sciences and Institute of Genome Sciences, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:201  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-201

Published: 30 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Previous studies have demonstrated that the consumption of green tea inhibits the growth of various cancers. Most cancers are believed to be initiated from and maintained by a small population of cancer stem-like cells (CSC) or tumor-initiating cells (TIC) that are responsible for tumor relapse and chemotherapeutic resistance. Although epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG), the most abundant catechin in green tea, has been reported to induce growth inhibition and apoptosis in some cancer cells, its effect on CSC is undefined. In this study, we enriched CSC by the sphere formation, and provided an efficient model for further experiments. Using this method, we examined the effects of EGCG regulating the nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) CSC and attempted to elucidate the possible mechanisms.

Methods

NPC TW01 and TW06 cell lines were enriched by sphere formation and characterized their phenotypical properties, such as invasion capacity, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and gene expression were analyzed by quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (q-RT-PCR). EGCG-induced growth inhibition in the parental and sphere-derived cells was determined by MTT and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) assay. EGCG-induced apoptosis was analyzed by flow cytometry with Annexin V and PI staining. The effects of EGCG on sphere-derived cell tumorigenicity, migration and invasion were determined by soft agar assay, wound healing, and cell invasion assay. The alternation of protein expression regulated by EGCG on these sphere-derived cells was assessed by immunofluorescence staining and western blot.

Results

NPC sphere-derived cells grown in serum-free non-adherent culture showed increased expression of stem cell markers and EMT markers compared to parental cells grown in conventional culture. Although EGCG induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in the parental cells in a dose-dependent manner, it was not as effective against spheres. However, EGCG potently inhibited sphere formation and can eliminate the stem cell characteristics of NPC and inhibit the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) signatures.

Conclusions

Overall, these findings show that NPC cells with sphere formations possess the properties of CSC. Using this model, we found that EGCG regulated NPC CSC, their self-renewal capacity, and inhibited their invasive characteristics. It supports the pivotal role of EGCG as a dietary compound targeting NPC and may decrease recurrence and metastasis in nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells.

Keywords:
Epigallocathechin gallate; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Cancer stem cells; Stem cells; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition