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Arecoline, the most abundant areca alkaloid, has been reported to decrease interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in epithelial cancer cells. Since IL-6 overexpression contributes to the tumorigenic potency of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), this study was designed to investigate whether arecoline altered IL-6 expression and its downstream regulation of apoptosis and the cell cycle in cultured BCC-1/KMC cells. BCC-1/KMC cells and a human keratinocyte cell line, HaCaT, were treated with arecoline at concentrations ranging from 10 to 100 μg/ml, then IL-6 production and expression of apoptosis- and cell cycle progress-related factors were examined. After 24 h exposure, arecoline inhibited BCC-1/KMC cell growth and decreased IL-6 production in terms of mRNA expression and protein secretion, but had no effect on HaCaT cells. Analysis of DNA fragmentation and chromatin condensation showed that arecoline induced apoptosis of BCC-1/KMC cells in a dose-dependent manner, activated caspase-3, and decreased expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. In addition, arecoline induced progressive and sustained accumulation of BCC-1/KMC cells in G2/M phase as a result of reducing checkpoint Cdc2 activity by decreasing Cdc25C phosphatase levels and increasing p53 levels. Furthermore, subcutaneous injection of arecoline led to decreased BCC-1/KMC tumor growth in BALB/c mice by inducing apoptosis. This study demonstrates that arecoline has potential for preventing BCC tumorigenesis by reducing levels of the tumor cell survival factor IL-6, increasing levels of the tumor suppressor factor p53, and eliciting cell cycle arrest, followed by apoptosis.