Strawberry tree honey in combination with 5-fluorouracil enhances chemosensitivity in human colon adenocarcinoma cells

Sadia Afrin, Francesca Giampieri, Danila Cianciosi, José M. Alvarez-Suarez, Beatriz Bullon, Adolfo Amici, Josè L. Quiles, Tamara Y. Forbes-Hernández, Maurizio Battino

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16 Scopus citations


Colorectal cancer remains a challenging health burden worldwide. This study aimed to assess the potentiality of Strawberry tree honey (STH), a polyphenol-enriched food, to increase the effectiveness of 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) in adenocarcinoma (HCT-116) and metastatic (LoVo) colon cancer cell lines. The combined treatment reduced cell viability and caused oxidative stress, by increasing oxidative biomarkers and decreasing antioxidant defence, in a more potent way compared to 5-FU alone. The expression of endoplasmic reticulum (ATF-6, XBP-1) and MAPK (p-p38 MAPK, p-ERK1/2) markers were also elevated after the combined treatment, enhancing the cell cycle arrest through the modulation of regulatory genes (i.e., cyclins and CDKs). Apoptotic gene (i.e., caspases) expressions were also increased after the combined treatment, while those of proliferation (i.e., EGFR), cell migration, invasion (i.e., matrix metallopeptidase) and epithelial–mesenchymal transition (N-cadherin, β-catenin) were suppressed. Finally, the combined treatment led cell metabolism towards a quiescent stage, by reducing mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis. In conclusion, this work represents an initial step to highlight the possibility to use STH in combination with 5-FU in the treatment of colon cancer, even if further in vitro an in vivo studies are strongly needed to confirm the possible chemo-sensitizing effects of STH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112484
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • 5-Fluorouracil
  • Apoptosis
  • Colon cancer prevention
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Strawberry tree honey
  • Synergistic effect


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