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High doses of hydroxytyrosol induce apoptosis in papillary and follicular thyroid cancer cells



Recent evidences indicates that hydroxytyrosol, one of the main olive oil phenols, possess antitumor effects because of its pro-oxidant properties and the capacity to inhibit proliferation and to promote apoptosis in several tumor cell lines, although most of the results were obtained for breast and digestive systems cancers.


In this study, we evaluated the activities of hydroxytyrosol against papillary (TPC-1, FB-2) and follicular (WRO) thyroid cancer cell lines.


Cellular viability revealed that high doses of hydroxytyrosol reduced cancer cells viability concomitantly with a reduction of cyclin D1 expression and an up-regulation of cell cycle key modulator p21 levels. In the same experimental conditions, Annexin V–PI staining and DNA laddering revealed that hydroxytyrosol exerts proapoptotic effects on papillary and follicular cancer cells. Furthermore, by Western blot analysis, we observed that hydroxytyrosol treatment reduced thyroid cancer cells viability by promoting apoptotic cell death via intrinsic pathway.


Collectively, our results demonstrated for the first time that in thyroid cancer cells hydroxytyrosol promoted apoptosis at higher doses with respect to other cancer cells lines. Therefore, further studies will reveal the mechanisms by which thyroid cancer cells are more resistant to the proapoptotic effect exerted by hydroxytyrosol as well as the potential application as novel target therapeutic in thyroid cancer.

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We thank Dr. Sabrina Bossio, Biotechnology Research Unit, ASP Cosenza, Aprigliano, Italy, for help with Annexin V–PI assay.

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Correspondence to A. Perri.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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

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G. Toteda and S. Lupinacci have contributed equally to this work.

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Toteda, G., Lupinacci, S., Vizza, D. et al. High doses of hydroxytyrosol induce apoptosis in papillary and follicular thyroid cancer cells. J Endocrinol Invest 40, 153–162 (2017).

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  • Hydroxytyrosol
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Olive oil
  • Hydroxytyrosol
  • Apoptosis
  • Nutrition