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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common types of cancer seen in the world. 5-Fluorouracil (5-Fu) plus Oxaliplatin (1-OHP) remains the backbone of CRC chemotherapeutics, but with limited success. Phenoxodiol (Pxd) is an isoflavone analog with antitumor activity against various types of cancers, and sensitizes chemoresistant cancer cells to chemotherapeutics including platinum and taxanes. This study was, therefore, undertaken to examine whether Pxd pre-treatment with conventional chemotherapeutic agent(s) 5-Fu and 1-OHP co-administration be a therapeutic strategy for CRC. Cell viability and cytotoxicity were evaluated using dimethyl-thiazolyl diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and lactate dehydrogenase assays. The percentage of apoptotic and necrotic cells were determined by fluorescence microscopy analysis. Besides, active Caspase-3 levels by ELISA and relative mRNA levels of Caspase 3 (CASP3), CASP8 and CASP9 genes were determined by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analysis. The pre-treatment of Pxd followed by 5-Fu and 1-OHP co-administration was more effective at inhibiting cell viability than either chemotherapeutic agents treatment alone. When compared to 5-Fu with 1-OHP alone treatment, Pxd pre-treatment overwhelmingly increased apoptotic Caspase-3 activity levels in CRC cells. Moreover, qPCR analyses showed that CASP3 and CASP9 mRNA levels significantly increased after pre-treatment with Pxd followed by 5-Fu and 1-OHP treatments, compared to 5-Fu with 1-OHP alone. Our results suggested that Pxd enhanced the in vitro antitumor activity of 5-Fu and 1-OHP. Our study also suggested that Pxd may be a potential candidate agent in advanced CRC and inclusion of Pxd to the conventional chemotherapeutic agent(s) could be an effective therapeutic strategy for CRC.
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