Effects of ellagic acid in human neuroblastoma cells

Abstract: A diet rich in polyphenols has been proposed to have beneficial health effects and to reduce risk of disease. Ellagic acid, a polyphenol common in red berries and pomegranates, has potential anti-tumorigenic effects that make it interesting to further study in different cancer cell systems.Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer that arises during development of the peripheral nervous system. Neuroblastoma, being an embryonal tumor, show loss of function of genes controlling differentiation and apoptosis. Neuroblastoma is a heterogenic tumor disease, and highly malignant neuroblastomas are difficult to treat despite different treatment modalities, identifying a need for new and combinatory treatments. A common model for human neuroblastoma is the SH-SY5Y cell line resembling immature neuroblasts that can be differentiated in vitro with several agents including the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and the vitamin A-derivative all-trans retinoic acid.Here, the effect of ellagic acid on proliferation, cell detachment and apoptosis in non-differentiated and in vitro-differentiated SH-SY5Y cells were studied with the aim of identifying cellular target mechanisms and a possible therapeutic potential for ellagic acid.In non-differentiated cells, ellagic acid reduced cell number, inhibited cell cycle activity, and induced cell detachment and apoptosis. Apoptosis was partly mediated by the intrinsic pathway. 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and all-trans retinoic acid both induced morphological differentiation, while only the latter induced G0/G1-arrest. Single-cell analysis revealed that 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-treated cells continued cycling during neuritogenesis while these two read-outs were mutually exclusive in all-trans retinoic acid-treated cells. 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate- and especially all-trans retinoic acid-differentiated cells showed lower sensitivity to ellagic acid-dependent cell detachment and apoptosis.