Effects of carbendazim and astaxanthin co-treatment on the proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells

  • Pinar Buket AtalayEmail author
  • Gamze Kuku
  • Bilge Guvenc Tuna


There has been a controversy in the oncology field about the use of antioxidants along with chemotherapeutics in cancer treatment. This study aimed to investigate the effects of a potent antioxidant (astaxanthin) co-treatment with a promising anti-cancer drug (carbendazim), which is in phase I clinical trials, on MCF-7 breast cancer cell proliferation. MCF-7 cells were treated with carbendazim, astaxanthin, or their combinations and incubated for 24 h. After the incubation, each treatment group was evaluated for proliferation, cell cycle progression, and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) using WST-1, flow cytometry, and CM-H2DCFDA, respectively. All tested carbendazim and astaxanthin combinations increased the anti-proliferative effect of Carb treatment alone and increased the G2/M phase cell cycle arrest compared to the DMSO-treated control. Astaxanthin, at all concentrations tested, reduced the elevated intracellular ROS levels induced by the carbendazim treatment. Our data suggest that astaxanthin and carbendazim co-treatment enhances the anti-proliferative effect of carbendazim as a single agent, while alleviating the carbendazim treatment-associated ROS production in MCF-7 cells. These findings may contribute to the current debate on the use of antioxidants along with anti-cancer drugs in cancer chemotherapy.


MCF-7 Breast cancer Carbendazim Astaxanthin 


Authors’ contributions

PBA: Manuscript writing, study design, data interpretation, GK: Data collection, data analysis, BGT: Study design, data interpretation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11626_2018_312_Fig4_ESM.png (27 kb)
Figure S1

Determining the IC50 dose for carbendazim. MCF-7 cells were treated with 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, and 75 μM carbendazim for 24 h and viability was evaluated using WST-1. Optical density values of treatment groups were expressed as percentage of viability compared to DMSO control. Data shown in the figure is a representative of two independent experiments, each performed in triplicates. Data expressed as means of triplicates ± standard error. (JPG 21 kb)

11626_2018_312_Fig5_ESM.png (677 kb)
Figure S2

Effects of carbendazim and/or astaxhantin on intracellular ROS levels by spectrophotometry analysis. 104 MCF-7 cells were seeded to each well of a 96-well plate. For the blank measurements, wells containing only the increasing concentrations of incubation media were included in addition to the wells containing MCF-7 cells. An hour before the completion of incubation, the wells were incubated with medium containing DCFDA at a final concentration of 25 μM. At the end of incubation, the microplate was read on SpectraMax® Paradigm® Multi-Mode Microplate Reader at 485 nm excitation and 535 nm emission wavelengths. The ratio of relative fluorescence intensities was calculated between the control and treated wells to blank wells. A) 8, 15 or 30 μM carbendazim treatment. B) Treatment with 5, 10 or 15 30 μg/mL astaxanthin. C) Co-treatment combinations of ATX5 and different Carb concentrations. D) Co-treatment combinations of Carb15 and different ATX concentrations. Each bar represents the mean value with standard error (mean ± std) from three determinations. (JPG 565 kb)

11626_2018_312_MOESM1_ESM.tiff (33.2 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 33973 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Society for In Vitro Biology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Biology and GeneticsMaltepe University Faculty of Medicine, Maltepe UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Genetics and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and ArchitectureYeditepe UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  3. 3.Department of BiophysicsYeditepe University School of Medicine, Yeditepe UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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