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Date: 30 Apr 2012

Effects of Coptis extract combined with chemotherapeutic agents on ROS production, multidrug resistance, and cell growth in A549 human lung cancer cells



Non–small cell lung cancer is associated with high expression of multidrug resistance (MDR) proteins and low production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Coptis extract (COP), a Chinese medicinal herb, and its major constituent, berberine (BER), have anticancer properties. This study aims to investigate the effects of COP and BER combined with chemotherapeutic agents, including fluorouracil (5-FU), camptothecin (CPT), and paclitaxel (TAX), on cell proliferation, ROS production, and MDR in A549 human non-small cell lung cancer cells.


A549 cells were treated with different doses of COP and BER, combined with 5-FU, CPT, and TAX. Cell viability was measured by an XTT (2,3-bis-(2-methoxy-4- nitro-5-sulfophenyl)-2 H-tetrazolium-5-carboxanilide) assay. Intracellular ROS levels were determined by measuring the oxidative conversion of cell permeable 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate to fluorescent dichlorofluorescein. MDR of A549 cells was assessed by rhodamine 123 retention assay.


Both COP and BER significantly inhibited A549 cell growth in a dose-dependent manner. Combinations of COP or BER with chemotherapeutic agents (5-FU, CPT, and TAX) exhibited a stronger inhibitory effect on A549 cell growth. In addition, COP and BER increased ROS production and reduced MDR in A549 cells.


As potential adjuvants to chemotherapy for non–small cell lung cancer, COP and BER increase ROS production, reduce MDR, and enhance the inhibitory effects of chemotherapeutic agents on A549 cell growth.