Eugenol is a phytochemical present in different plant products, e.g., clove oil. Traditionally, it is used against a number of different disorders and it was suggested to have anticancer activity. In this study, the activity of eugenol was evaluated in a human cervical cancer (HeLa) cell line and cell proliferation was examined after treatment with various concentrations of eugenol and different treatment durations. Cytotoxicity was tested using lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) enzyme leakage. In order to assess eugenol’s potential to act synergistically with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, cell survival was calculated after eugenol treatment in combination with cisplatin and X-rays. To elucidate its mechanism of action, caspase-3 activity was analyzed and the expression of various genes and proteins was checked by RT-PCR and western blot analyses. Eugenol clearly decreased the proliferation rate and increased LDH release in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. It showed synergistic effects with cisplatin and X-rays. Eugenol increased caspase-3 activity and the expression of Bax
, cytochrome c (Cyt-c), caspase-3, and caspase-9 and decreased the expression of B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2
, cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2
), and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) indicating that eugenol mainly induced cell death by apoptosis. In conclusion, eugenol showed antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects via apoptosis and also synergism with cisplatin and ionizing radiation in the human cervical cancer cell line.
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