The apoptotic effect of hesperetin on human cervical cancer cells is mediated through cell cycle arrest, death receptor, and mitochondrial pathways



Hesperetin, a flavonoid from citrus fruits, has several bioactivities such as anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antiatherogenic effects. However, studies elucidating the role and the mechanism(s) of action of hesperetin in cervical cancer are sparse. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of the antiproliferative and apoptotic actions exerted by hesperetin on human cervical cancer SiHa cells. The viability of SiHa cells was evaluated using the MTT assay, apoptosis by acridine orange/ethidium bromide, propidium iodide, TUNEL assay, and Annexin V-Cy3, cell cycle distribution and mitochondrial transmembrane potential using flow cytometry, and apoptotic marker genes using quantitative real-time PCR. The treatment of SiHa cells with hesperetin (IC50, 650 μm) showed a marked concentration- and time-dependent inhibition of proliferation and induced the G2/M phase in a dose-dependent manner after 24 h. There was an attenuation of mitochondrial membrane potential with increased expression of caspase-3, caspase-8, caspase-9, p53, Bax, and Fas death receptor and its adaptor protein Fas-associated death domain–containing protein (FADD), indicating the participation of both death receptor– and mitochondria-related mechanisms. Furthermore, hesperetin-induced apoptosis was confirmed by TUNEL and Annexin V-Cy3. This study shows that hesperetin exhibits a potential anticancer activity against human cervical cancer cell lines in vitro through the reduction in cell viability and the induction of apoptosis. Altogether, these data sustain our contention that hesperetin has anticancer properties and merits further investigation as a potential therapeutic agent.