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Keywords:

  • combination treatment of genistein and capsaicin;
  • apoptosis;
  • COX-2;
  • AMPK;
  • anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects

The topical application of TPA (12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate) to animal skin or direct treatment of TPA to cell cultures leads to inflammatory responses by enhancing cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) expression, and specific COX-2 inhibitors counteract this kind of inflammatory response. Furthermore, suppression of these inflammatory events by dietary-origin chemopreventive agents can provide a potential strategy to control carcinogenesis. In this in vivo study, the mammary glands of mature female rats were treated with TPA, and then the effects of genistein alone or in combination with capsaicin on suppression of inflammatory responses were examined. The combined effects of genistein and capsaicin on COX-2, pJNK, pERK, and pp38 expressions were additive or nonadditive, depending on signals tested. In vitro MCF-7 breast cancer cells, the apoptotic bodies as shown with Hoechst 33342 dye, exhibited a synergistic effect between genistein and capsaicin. The abilities of genistein alone or in combination with capsaicin in inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation through the modulation of AMPK and COX-2 were tested. AMPK activation by genistein in combination with capsaicin is critical for inhibiting COX-2. We propose that genistein in combination with capsaicin exerts anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties through the modulation of AMPK and COX-2 and possibly various mitogen-activated protein kinases synergistically or nonsynergistically.