Investigational New Drugs

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 837–848 | Cite as

Caffeic acid phenethyl ester exerts apoptotic and oxidative stress on human multiple myeloma cells

  • Elizabeth Hernandez Marin
  • Hana Paek
  • Mei Li
  • Yesung Ban
  • Marie Katie Karaga
  • Rangaiah Shashidharamurthy
  • Xinyu WangEmail author


Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is a phenolic compound initially identified in bee glue. CAPE is reported to exhibit antitumor activity in many cancer models. However, the effect of CAPE on multiple myeloma (MM) is not well studied. We investigated the anti-myeloma effect of CAPE, and the data showed that CAPE inhibited the growth of human MM cells in a dose (1 ~ 30 μM) and time (24 ~72 h) dependent manner without altering the viability of normal human peripheral blood B cells. Stress and toxicity pathway analysis demonstrated that CAPE, in a dose- and time-related fashion, induced the expression of apoptotic and oxidative stress-response genes including growth arrest and DNA-damage inducible, alpha and gamma (GADD45A and GADD45G) and heme oxygenase-1. Apoptosis of MM cells by CAPE was further confirmed through flow cytometric analysis with up to 50% apoptotic cells induced by 50 μM CAPE within 24 h. Western blot analysis revealed the CAPE-induced activation of apoptosis executioner enzyme caspase-3, and corresponding cleavage of its downstream target poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP). The oxidative stress caused by CAPE cytotoxicity in MM cells was evaluated through measurement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) level, antioxidant intervention and glutathione depletion. The intracellular ROS level was not elevated by CAPE, but the pretreatment of antioxidant (N-acetyl cysteine) and glutathione synthesis inhibitor (buthionine sulfoximine) suggested that CAPE may cause oxidative stress by decrease of intracellular antioxidant level rather than over production of ROS. These data suggest that CAPE promotes apoptosis through oxidative stress in human multiple myeloma cells.


Caffeic acid phenethyl ester Multiple myeloma Cytotoxicity Apoptosis Oxidative stress 


Author contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: XW. Performed the experiments: EM, HP, ML.YB, and MK. Analyzed the data: EM, HP, ML, RS, and XW. Critically reviewed the paper: RS. Wrote the paper: XW.


This work was supported by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) New Investigator Award and The Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging (CCDA) funding from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to XW. It was partly supported by AHA (11SDG5710004) and NIAID (AI128254-01A1) to RS.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of PharmacyPhiladelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Georgia CampusSuwaneeUSA

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