Tualang honey (TH) is rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids and has significant anticancer activity against breast cancer cells comparable to the effect of tamoxifen (TAM), in vitro.
The current study evaluated the effects of TH when used in combination with TAM on MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. We observed that TH promoted the anticancer activity of TAM in both the estrogen receptor-(ER-)responsive and ER-nonresponsive human breast cancer cell lines. Flow cytometric analyses indicated accelerated apoptosis especially in MDA-MB-231 cells and with the involvement of caspase-3/7, -8 and -9 activation as shown by fluorescence microscopy. Depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane was also increased in both cell lines when TH was used in combination with TAM compared to TAM treatment alone.
TH may therefore be a potential adjuvant to be used with TAM for reducing the dose of TAM, hence, reducing TAM-induced adverse effects.