Investigational New Drugs

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 624–633 | Cite as

Involvement of non-protein thiols, mitochondrial dysfunction, reactive oxygen species and p53 in honey-induced apoptosis

  • Saravana Kumar Jaganathan
  • Mahitosh MandalEmail author


Honey is a complex mixture of different biologically active constituents. Honey possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor properties. Our chief investigation was to assess the honey induced apoptosis and its molecular mechanism in colon cancer cell growth inhibition. Honey exerted antiproliferative potential against the HCT-15 and HT-29 colon cancer cells as assessed by 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Flow cytometric analysis showed the increasing accumulation of hypodiploid nuclei in the sub-G1 phase of cell cycle indicating apoptosis. Honey transduced the apoptotic signal via initial depletion of intracellular non protein thiols, consequently reducing the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and increasing the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. An increasing earlier lipid layer break was observed in the treated cells compared to the control. Honey induced apoptosis was accompanied by up-regulating the p53 and modulating the expression of pro and anti-apoptotic proteins. Further apoptosis induction was substantiated using DNA fragmentation assay and YO-PRO-1 staining. Results showed honey as a plausible candidate for induction of apoptosis through ROS and mitochondria-dependent mechanisms in colon cancer cells. This will promote honey as a potential chemotherapeutic agent against colon cancer.


Honey Thiol ROS Apoptosis Mitochondrial dysfunction p53 YOPRO-1 DNA fragmentation Colon cancer 



Authors would like to acknowledge Mr. Sanat Dey as well as his lab members for their moral support in bringing this work in proper form. Author Saravana Kumar J acknowledges the MHRD fellowship provided by IIT kharagpur. The authors would like to acknowledge the Central Research Facility (CRF) of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur for providing the facility of FACS machine. Authors would also express his sincere thanks to Mr. Samiran, person-incharge of FACS machine.

Ethical permission

Authors don’t have any conflict of interest. All work was performed with the permission from the Institute where the authors were affiliated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medical Science and TechnologyIndian Institute of TechnologyKharagpurIndia

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