Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] is an important human carcinogen associated with pulmonary diseases and lung cancer. Inhibition of Cr(VI)-induced carcinogenesis by a dietary antioxidant is a novel approach. Quercetin is one of the most abundant dietary flavonoids widely present in many fruits and vegetables, possesses potent antioxidant and anticancer properties. MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is a key oncomiR significantly elevated in the majority of human cancers that exerts its oncogenic activity by targeting the tumor suppressor gene programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4). The present study examined the effect of quercetin on the inhibition of Cr(VI)-induced malignant cell transformation and the role of miR-21-PDCD4 signaling involved. Our results showed that quercetin decreased ROS generation induced by Cr(VI) exposure in BEAS-2B cells. Chronic Cr(VI) exposure induced malignant cell transformation, increased miR-21 expression and caused inhibition of PDCD4, which were significantly inhibited by the treatment of quercetin in a dose dependent manner. Nude mice injected with BEAS-2B cells chronically exposed to Cr(VI) in the presence of quercetin showed reduced tumor incidence compared to Cr(VI) alone treated group. Stable knockdown of miR-21 and overexpression of PDCD4 or catalase in BEAS-2B cells suppressed Cr(VI)-induced malignant transformation and tumorigenesis. Taken together, these results demonstrate that quercetin is able to protect BEAS-2B cells from Cr(VI)-induced carcinogenesis by targeting miR-21-PDCD4 signaling.

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Published in Oncotarget, v. 8, no. 32, p. 52118-52131.

Copyright: Pratheeshkumar et al.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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This research was supported by National Institutes of Health (R01ES017244, R01ES025515).