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Background: Cisplatin is an important DNA-damaging anticancer drug that has been used to treat many cancer types. However, the effectiveness of cisplatin treatment diminishes quickly as cancer cells develop resistance to the drug, which eventually results in treatment failure. Caffeine is an ingredient contained in many food sources. Caffeine can inhibit activities of both ATM and ATR, two important protein kinases involved in DNA damage-induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. The effect of caffeine on cisplatin-based cancer treatment is not well known.

Methods: Caspase-3 activation and cell growth inhibition assays were used to determine the effect of caffeine on cisplatin-induced apoptosis and cell growth in lung cancer cells. Real time PCR, immunoblotting, and flow cytometry assays were used determine a mechanism through which the presence of caffeine increased cisplatin-induced apoptosis of the lung cancer cells.

Results: Our caspase-3 activation studies demonstrated that the presence of caffeine increased the cisplatin-induced apoptosis in both HTB182 and CRL5985 lung cancer cells. Our cell growth inhibition studies indicated that the presence of caffeine caused a more increase for cisplatin-induced cell growth inhibition. The results obtained from our real time PCR and western blot studies revealed that the presence of caffeine increased cisplatin-induced expression of the PUMA pro-apoptotic protein in these lung cancer cells. The results of our protein phosphorylation studies indicated that the presence of caffeine caused a decrease in CHK1 phosphorylation at Ser317/Ser345but an increase in ATM phosphorylation at Ser1981 in the lung cancer cells treated with cisplatin. In addition, our flow cytometry studies also revealed that the presence of caffeine caused an increase in G1 cell population but a decrease for cisplatin-induced cell cycle arrests at the S and the G2 checkpoints in HTB182 and CRL5985 cells respectively.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the presence of caffeine increases the cisplatin-induced lung cancer cell killings by inhibiting ATR but inducing ATM activation, resulting in an increase in expression of PUMA protein and an increase in apoptosis.


Hematology | Oncology


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