ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

Evaluation of the Cytotoxic and Autophagic Effects of Atorvastatin on MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells
Tuğba Alarcon Martinez1,2, Naciye Dilara Zeybek1, Sevda Müftüoğlu1
1Department of Histology and Embryology, Hacettepe University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey
2Department of Pediatrics, Hacettepe University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey
DOI : 10.4274/balkanmedj.2017.0604
Pages : 256-262


Background: Recently, cytotoxic effects of statins on breast cancer cells have been reported. However, the mechanism of anti-proliferative effects is currently unknown. Autophagy is non-apoptotic programmed cell death, which is characterized by degradation of cytoplasmic components and as having a role in cancer pathogenesis.
Aims: To investigate the anti-proliferative effects of atorvastatin on MCF-7 human breast adenocarcinoma cells with respect to both autophagy and apoptosis.
Study Design: Cell culture study.
Methods: Cell viability was analyzed using WST-1 cell proliferation assay. Apoptosis was determined by the TUNEL method, whereas autophagy was assessed by Beclin-1 and LC3B immunofluorescence staining. Ultrastructural analysis of cells was performed by electron microscopy.
Results: Atorvastatin reduced MCF-7 cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner inducing TUNEL-, Beclin-1-, and LC3B-positive cells. Moreover, ultrastructural analysis showed apoptotic, autophagic, and necrotic morphological changes in treatment groups. A statistically significant increase in the apoptotic index was detected with higher concentrations of atorvastatin at 24 h and 48 h (p<0.05).
Conclusion: The anti-proliferative effects of atorvastatin on breast cancer cells is mediated by the induction of both apoptosis and autophagy which shows statins as a potential treatment option for breast cancer.

Keywords : Apoptosis, atorvastatin, autophagy, breast cancer, cytotoxicity, MCF-7 cells
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