Canthaxanthin induces apoptosis in human cancer cell lines.

Gabriella Calviello, Paola Palozza, Nicola Giuseppe Maggiano, Paola Lanza, Elisabetta Piccioni, Franco Oreste Ranelletti, Bartoli Gm

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65 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the possibility that canthaxanthin inhibits cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis, human WiDr colon adenocarcinoma and SK-MEL-2 melanoma cells were treated with two different doses of the carotenoid for 48 h. Canthaxanthin was incorporated and/or associated to cells. The treatment with the carotenoid caused growth inhibition in both cell types. Concomitantly, apoptosis was induced. Increasing time of exposure and carotenoid concentration, this effect was more pronounced. At 48 h, the percentages of apoptotic cells were 13 and 15, using 1 microM canthaxanthin, and 18 and 20, using 10 microM canthaxanthin in WiDr and SK-MEL-2 cells, respectively. This study represents the first demonstration that canthaxanthin is able to induce apoptosis in tumour cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-376
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • apoptosis
  • canthaxanthin


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