Molecules and Cells

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 340–346 | Cite as

4-methoxychalcone enhances cisplatin-induced oxidative stress and cytotoxicity by inhibiting the Nrf2/ARE-mediated defense mechanism in A549 lung cancer cells

  • Juhee Lim
  • Sung Ho Lee
  • Sera Cho
  • Ik-Soo Lee
  • Bok Yun Kang
  • Hyun Jin ChoiEmail author
Research Article


Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a key transcriptional regulator for the protection of cells against oxidative and xenobiotic stresses. Recent studies have demonstrated that high constitutive expression of Nrf2 is observed in many types of cancer cells showing resistance to anti-cancer drugs, suggesting that the suppression of overexpressed Nrf2 could be an attractive therapeutic strategy to overcome cancer drug resistance. In the present study, we aimed to find small molecule compounds that enhance the sensitivity of tumor cells to cisplatin induced cytotoxicity by suppressing Nrf2-mediated defense mechanism. A549 lung cancer cells were shown to be more resistant to the anti-cancer drug cisplatin than HEK293 cells, with higher Nrf2 signaling activity; constitutively high amounts of Nrf2-downstream target proteins were observed in A549 cells. Among the three chalcone derivatives 4-methoxy-chalcone (4-MC), hesperidin methylchalcone, and neohesperidin dihydrochalcone, 4-MC was found to suppress transcriptional activity of Nrf2 in A549 cells but to activate it in HEK293 cells. 4-MC was also shown to down-regulate expression of Nrf2 and the downstream phase II detoxifying enzyme NQO1 in A549 cells. The PI3K/Akt pathway was found to be involved in the 4-MC-induced inhibition of Nrf2/ARE activity in A549 cells. This inhibition of Nrf2 signaling results in the accelerated generation of reactive oxygen species and exacerbation of cytotoxicity in cisplatin-treated A549 cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the small molecule compound 4-MC could be used to enhance the sensitivity of tumor cells to the therapeutic effect of cisplatin through the regulation of Nrf2/ARE signaling.


4-methoxychalcone A549 chemosensitivity cisplatin Nrf2 


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Copyright information

© The Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology and Springer Netherlands 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juhee Lim
    • 1
  • Sung Ho Lee
    • 2
  • Sera Cho
    • 2
  • Ik-Soo Lee
    • 2
  • Bok Yun Kang
    • 2
  • Hyun Jin Choi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of PharmacyCHA UniversitySeongnamKorea
  2. 2.College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Drug DevelopmentChonnam National UniversityGwangjuKorea

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