Colchicine of Colchicum autumnale, A Traditional Anti-Inflammatory Medicine, Induces Apoptosis by Activation of Apoptotic Genes and Proteins Expression in Human Breast (MCF-7) and Mouse Breast (4T1) Cell Lines

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Pharmacognosy and Biotechnology, School of Pharmacy, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran

3 Medical Biology Research Center, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran



Breast cancer is one of the major causes of mortality among women. Due to many side effects of the existing
chemotherapeutic agents, the research of anti-cancer drugs, including natural products, is still a big challenge. Here,
we investigated the effects of colchicine on apoptosis of two breast cancer cell lines ( human MCF-7 and mouse 4T1).

Materials and Methods

In this experimental study, we evaluated the apoptotic effects of colchicine on (MCF-7) and
(4T1), as well as a human cancer-associated fibroblast cell line as a control group. Extraction and chromatographic
techniques were applied to isolate colchicine from Colchicum autumnale L. To compare the isolated colchicine with
pure standard colchicine, we used the H-NMR technique. The methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) assay, quantitative
reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting and annexin V/PI staining were used to evaluate the
apoptotic effects of the isolated and standard colchicine.


Similar to standard colchicine, the isolated colchicine inhibited cell proliferation significantly in cancer cell
lines. Colchine inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis on a dose-dependent manner. The medicine modified the
expression of genes-related to apoptosis by up-regulation of P53 ,BAX, CASPASE-3, -9 and down-regulation of BCL-2
gene, which led to an increase in the BAX/BCL-2 ratio.


We showed that isolated colchicine from Colchicum autumnale and pure standard colchicines modulate
the expression levels of several genes and therefore exerting their anticancer effects on both human (MCF-7) and
mouse (4T1) breast cancer cells. Based on these results, we suggest that colchicine can be a potential candidate for
prevention and treatment of breast cancer.


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