Cancer cells undergo uncontrolled proliferation resulting from aberrant activity of various cell-cycle proteins. Therefore, despite recent advances in intensive chemotherapy, it is difficult to cure cancer completely. Recently, cell-cycle regulators became attractive targets in cancer therapy. Zingerone, a phenolic compound isolated from ginger, is a nontoxic and inexpensive compound with varied pharmacological activities. In this study, the therapeutic effect of zingerone as an anti-mitotic agent in human neuroblastoma cells was investigated. Following treatment of BE(2)-M17 cells with zingerone, we performed a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5- diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay and colony-formation assay to evaluate cellular proliferation, in addition to immunofluorescence cytochemistry and flow cytometry to examine the mitotic cells. The association of gene expression with tumor stage and survival was analyzed. Furthermore, to examine the anti-cancer effect of zingerone, we applied a BALB/c mouse-tumor model using a BALB/c-derived adenocarcinoma cell line. In human neuroblastoma cells, zingerone inhibited cellular viability and survival. Moreover, the number of mitotic cells, particularly those in prometaphase, increased in zingerone-treated neuroblastoma cells. Regarding specific molecular mechanisms, zingerone decreased cyclin D1 expression and induced the cleavage of caspase-3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1). The decrease in cyclin D1 and increase in histone H3 phosphorylated (p)-Ser10 were confirmed by immunohistochemistry in tumor tissues administered with zingerone. These results suggest that zingerone induces mitotic arrest followed by inhibition of growth of neuroblastoma cells. Collectively, zingerone may be a potential therapeutic drug for human cancers, including neuroblastoma.
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