Korean J Pediatr.  2008 Mar;51(3):307-314. 10.3345/kjp.2008.51.3.307.

Capsaicin induced apoptosis and the enhanced anticancer effect of anticancer drugs in cancer cells

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Schoool of Medicine, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea. hwaph@chonbuk.ac.kr
  • 2Research Institute of Clinical Medicine, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 3Department of Biochemistry, School of Dentistry, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea.


PURPOSE: Capsaicin, the major pungent ingredient in red pepper, has long been used in spices and food additives. It has been recently shown to induce apoptosis in several cell lines through a not well known mechanism. The aim of this study was to investigate the apoptosis-inducing effect of capsaicin on gastric cancer cells, and to provide valuable information concerning the application of capsaicin for therapeutic purposes.
Cultured SNU-668 cells were treated with capsaicin. We analyzed cell survival by trypan blue and crystal violet analysis, cell cytotoxicity by MTT assay, apoptosis by nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentation, bcl-2 and bax mRNA expression by RT-PCR, and the expression of apoptosis related proteins by Western immunoblot analysis. In order to assess whether the growth inhibitory effect of anticancer drugs is enhanced by capsaicin, we investigated the effects of cell cytotoxicity and the expression of apoptosis related proteins of etoposide and adriamycin treated with capsaicin in cells.
Capsaicin inhibited growth of SNU-668 cells in a dose-dependent manner. This inhibitory effect of capsaicin on cell growth was mainly due to the induction of apoptosis as evidenced by DNA fragmentation, nuclear condensation and the expression of apoptosis related proteins. Furthermore, capsaicin prominently reduced the ratio of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 to pro-apoptotic Bax and consequently increased caspase-3 activity. The cells treated with capsaicin were more sensitive to death induced by etoposide and adriamycin than the cells without capsaicin.
These results demonstrate that capsaicin efficiently induced apoptosis in SNU-668 cells through a caspase-3-dependent mechanism and sensitizes cancer cells to anticancer drugs toward apoptotic cell death, which may contribute to its anticancer effect and chemosensitizer function against gastric cancer.


Capsaicin; Apoptosis; Chemosensitivity; Gastric cancer
Full Text Links
  • KJP
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2021 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr