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      Pro-oxidant Actions of Carotenoids in Triggering Apoptosis of Cancer Cells: A Review of Emerging Evidence


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          Carotenoids are well known for their potent antioxidant function in the cellular system. However, in cancer cells with an innately high level of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), carotenoids may act as potent pro-oxidant molecules and trigger ROS-mediated apoptosis. In recent years, the pro-oxidant function of several common dietary carotenoids, including astaxanthin, β-carotene, fucoxanthin, and lycopene, has been investigated for their effective killing effects on various cancer cell lines. Besides, when carotenoids are delivered with ROS-inducing cytotoxic drugs (e.g., anthracyclines), they can minimize the adverse effects of these drugs on normal cells by acting as antioxidants without interfering with their cytotoxic effects on cancer cells as pro-oxidants. These dynamic actions of carotenoids can optimize oxidative stress in normal cells while enhancing oxidative stress in cancer cells. This review discusses possible mechanisms of carotenoid-triggered ROS production in cancer cells, the activation of pro-apoptotic signaling by ROS, and apoptotic cell death. Moreover, synergistic actions of carotenoids with ROS-inducing anti-cancer drugs are discussed, and research gaps are suggested.

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          Mutant p53 in Cancer: New Functions and Therapeutic Opportunities

          Many different types of cancer show a high incidence of TP53 mutations, leading to the expression of mutant p53 proteins. There is growing evidence that these mutant p53s have both lost wild-type p53 tumor suppressor activity and gained functions that help to contribute to malignant progression. Understanding the functions of mutant p53 will help in the development of new therapeutic approaches that may be useful in a broad range of cancer types.
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            Elevated copper and oxidative stress in cancer cells as a target for cancer treatment.

            As we gain a better understanding of the factors affecting cancer etiology, we can design improved treatment strategies. Over the past three to four decades, there have been numerous successful efforts in recognizing important cellular proteins essential in cancer growth and therefore these proteins have been targeted for cancer treatment. However, studies have shown that targeting one or two proteins in the complex cancer cascade may not be sufficient in controlling and/or inhibiting cancer growth. Therefore, there is a need to examine features which are potentially involved in multiple facets of cancer development. In this review we discuss the targeting of the elevated copper (both in serum and tumor) and oxidative stress levels in cancer with the aid of a copper chelator d-penicillamine (d-pen) for potential cancer treatment. Numerous studies in the literature have reported that both the serum and tumor copper levels are elevated in a variety of malignancies, including both solid tumor and blood cancer. Further, the elevated copper levels have been shown to be directly correlated to cancer progression. Enhanced levels of intrinsic oxidative stress has been shown in variety of tumors, possibly due to the combination of factors such as elevated active metabolism, mitochondrial mutation, cytokines, and inflammation. The cancer cells under sustained ROS stress tend to heavily utilize adaptation mechanisms and may exhaust cellular ROS-buffering capacity. Therefore, the elevated copper levels and increased oxidative stress in cancer cells provide for a prospect of selective cancer treatment.
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              Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans

              Background Astaxanthin modulates immune response, inhibits cancer cell growth, reduces bacterial load and gastric inflammation, and protects against UVA-induced oxidative stress in in vitro and rodent models. Similar clinical studies in humans are unavailable. Our objective is to study the action of dietary astaxanthin in modulating immune response, oxidative status and inflammation in young healthy adult female human subjects. Methods Participants (averaged 21.5 yr) received 0, 2, or 8 mg astaxanthin (n = 14/diet) daily for 8 wk in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Immune response was assessed on wk 0, 4 and 8, and tuberculin test performed on wk 8. Results Plasma astaxanthin increased (P < 0.01) dose-dependently after 4 or 8 wk of supplementation. Astaxanthin decreased a DNA damage biomarker after 4 wk but did not affect lipid peroxidation. Plasma C-reactive protein concentration was lower (P < 0.05) on wk 8 in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin. Dietary astaxanthin stimulated mitogen-induced lymphoproliferation, increased natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, and increased total T and B cell subpopulations, but did not influence populations of Thelper, Tcytotoxic or natural killer cells. A higher percentage of leukocytes expressed the LFA-1 marker in subjects given 2 mg astaxanthin on wk 8. Subjects fed 2 mg astaxanthin had a higher tuberculin response than unsupplemented subjects. There was no difference in TNF and IL-2 concentrations, but plasma IFN-γ and IL-6 increased on wk 8 in subjects given 8 mg astaxanthin. Conclusion Therefore, dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune response in young healthy females.

                Author and article information

                Antioxidants (Basel)
                Antioxidants (Basel)
                17 June 2020
                June 2020
                : 9
                : 6
                : 532
                [1 ]Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biotechnology, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea; junejhs@ 123456konkuk.ac.kr (J.S.); ohjw@ 123456konkuk.ac.kr (J.-W.O.)
                [2 ]Department of Crop Science, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea; tdasgtaasf@ 123456gmail.com (M.-H.S.); rational@ 123456konkuk.ac.kr (Y.-S.K.)
                [3 ]Institute of Natural Science and Agriculture, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea
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                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 27 May 2020
                : 15 June 2020



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