Platinum-based agents, such as cisplatin, form the mainstay of currently used chemotherapeutic regimens for several malignancies; however, the main limitations are chemoresistance and ototoxic side effects. In this study we used two different polyphenols, curcumin and ferulic acid as adjuvant chemotherapeutics evaluating (1) in vivo their antioxidant effects in protecting against cisplatin ototoxicity and (2) in vitro the transcription factors involved in tumor progression and cisplatin resistance. We reported that both polyphenols show antioxidant and oto-protective activity in the cochlea by up-regulating Nrf-2/HO-1 pathway and downregulating p53 phosphorylation. However, only curcumin is able to influence inflammatory pathways counteracting NF-κB activation. In human cancer cells, curcumin converts the anti-oxidant effect into a pro-oxidant and anti-inflammatory one. Curcumin exerts permissive and chemosensitive properties by targeting the cisplatin chemoresistant factors Nrf-2, NF-κB and STAT-3 phosphorylation. Ferulic acid shows a biphasic response: it is pro-oxidant at lower concentrations and anti-oxidant at higher concentrations promoting chemoresistance. Thus, polyphenols, mainly curcumin, targeting ROS-modulated pathways may be a promising tool for cancer therapy. Thanks to their biphasic activity of antioxidant in normal cells undergoing stressful conditions and pro-oxidant in cancer cells, these polyphenols probably engage an interplay among the key factors Nrf-2, NF-κB, STAT-3 and p53.
- head neck cancer
- personalized medicine