Synergistic antitumor effect of 3-bromopyruvate and 5-fluorouracil against human colorectal cancer through cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis

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3-Bromopyruvic acid (3-BP) is a well-known inhibitor of energy metabolism. It has been proposed as an anticancer agent as well as a chemosensitizer for use in combination with anticancer drugs. 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is the first-line chemotherapeutic agent for colorectal cancer; however, most patients develop resistance to 5-FU through various mechanisms. The aim of this study was to investigate whether 3-BP has a synergistic antitumor effect with 5-FU on human colorectal cancer cells. In our study, combined 3-BP and 5-FU treatment upregulated p53 and p21, whereas cyclin-dependent kinase CDK4 and CDK2 were downregulated, which led to G0/G1 phase arrest. Furthermore, there was an increase in reactive oxygen species levels and a decrease in adenosine triphosphate levels. It was also observed that Bax expression increased, whereas Bcl-2 expression reduced, which were indicative of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. In addition, the combination of 3-BP and 5-FU significantly suppressed tumor growth in the BALB/c mice in vivo. Therefore, 3-BP inhibits tumor proliferation and induces S and G2/M phase arrest. It also exerts a synergistic antitumor effect with 5-FU on SW480 cells.

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