Capsaicin, a pungent compound found in hot chili peppers, has been reported to have antitumor activities in many human cancer cell lines, but the induction of precise apoptosis signaling pathway in human nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells is unclear. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of capsaicin-induced apoptosis in human NPC, NPC-TW 039, cells. Effects of capsaicin involved endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, caspase-3 activation and mitochondrial depolarization. Capsaicin-induced cytotoxic effects (cell death) through G0/G1 phase arrest and induction of apoptosis of NPC-TW 039 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Capsaicin treatment triggered ER stress by promoting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), increasing levels of inositol-requiring 1 enzyme (IRE1), growth arrest and DNA-damage-inducible 153 (GADD153) and glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78). Other effects included an increase in cytosolic Ca2+, loss of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (ΔΨm), releases of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), and activation of caspase-9 and -3. Furthermore, capsaicin induced increases in the ratio of Bax/Bcl-2 and abundance of apoptosis-related protein levels. These results suggest that ER stress- and mitochondria-mediated cell death is involved in capsaicin-induced apoptosis in NPC-TW 039 cells.
- caspases-3 activation
- human nasopharyngeal carcinoma NPC-TW 039 cells