Genistein, a nontoxic flavonoid compound, has potent antitumor activity in various cancer cell lines. This study was designed to investigate whether combination therapy with gemcitabine and genistein enhances antitumor efficacy in osteosarcoma cell lines (MG-63 and U2OS). Our results show that significant reduction in cell viability and corresponding induction of apoptosis were observed with combination treatment in both cell lines. On the molecular level, we found that gemcitabine alone can activate nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) in osteosarcoma, suggesting the potential mechanism of acquired chemoresistance. In contrast, genistein reversed the cancer's resistance to gemcitabine through the downregulation of NF-kappaB activity and the suppression of Akt. These findings suggest that the combination of gemcitabine and genistein enhanced the antitumor efficacy by abrogating the Akt/NF-kappaB pathway. The marked ability to induce apoptosis with a combination of gemcitabine and genistein suggests that this could be a rational and novel approach for osteosarcoma preclinical and clinical trials.
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