Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2015 Dec 24. pii: S1357-2725(15)30085-6
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester, derived from natural propolis, has been reported to have anti-cancer properties. Voltage-gated sodium channels are upregulated in many cancers where they promote metastatic cell behaviours, including invasiveness.
We found that micromolar concentrations of caffeic acid phenethyl ester blocked voltage-gated sodium channel activity in several invasive cell lines from different cancers, including breast (MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468), colon (SW620) and non-small cell lung cancer (H460). In the MDA-MB-231 cell line, which was adopted as a 'model', long-term (48h) treatment with 18μM caffeic acid phenethyl ester reduced the peak current density by 91% and shifted steady-state inactivation to more hyperpolarized potentials and slowed recovery from inactivation. The effects of long-term treatment were also dose-dependent, 1μM caffeic acid phenethyl ester reducing current density by only 65%. The effects of caffeic acid phenethyl ester on metastatic cell behaviours were tested on the MDA-MB-231 cell line at a working concentration (1μM) that did not affect proliferative activity. Lateral motility and Matrigel invasion were reduced by up to 14% and 51%, respectively. Co-treatment of caffeic acid phenethyl ester with tetrodotoxin suggested that the voltage-gated sodium channel inhibition played a significant intermediary role in these effects.
We conclude, first, that caffeic acid phenethyl ester does possess anti-metastatic properties. Second, the voltage-gated sodium channels, commonly expressed in strongly metastatic cancers, are a novel target for caffeic acid phenethyl ester. Third, more generally, ion channel inhibition can be a significant mode of action of nutraceutical compounds.