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Radiotherapy is the treatment of choice for solid tumors including pancreatic cancer, but the effectiveness of treatment is limited by radiation resistance. Resistance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy is associated with reduced mitochondrial respiration and drugs that stimulate mitochondrial respiration may decrease radiation resistance. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the potential of (-)-epicatechin to stimulate mitochondrial respiration in cancer cells and to selectively sensitize cancer cells to radiation. We investigated the natural compound (-)-epicatechin for effects on mitochondrial respiration and radiation resistance of pancreatic and glioblastoma cancer cells using a Clark type oxygen electrode, clonogenic survival assays, and Western blot analyses. (-)-Epicatechin stimulated mitochondrial respiration and oxygen consumption in Panc-1 cells. Human normal fibroblasts were not affected. (-)-Epicatechin sensitized Panc-1, U87, and MIA PaCa-2 cells with an average radiation enhancement factor (REF) of 1.7, 1.5, and 1.2, respectively. (-)-Epicatechin did not sensitize normal fibroblast cells to ionizing radiation with a REF of 0.9, suggesting cancer cell selectivity. (-)-Epicatechin enhanced Chk2 phosphorylation and p21 induction when combined with radiation in cancer, but not normal, cells. Taken together, (-)-epicatechin radiosensitized cancer cells, but not normal cells, and may be a promising candidate for pancreatic cancer treatment when combined with radiation.


Molecular Genetics | Oncology | Radiology


Copyright: © 2014 Elbaz et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.