Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite (FBE) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 2 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
According to the cancer stem cell hypothesis, the aggressive growth and early metastasis of cancer may arise through dysregulation of self-renewal of stem cells. The objectives of this study were to examine the molecular mechanisms by which sulforaphane (SFN, an active compound in cruciferous vegetables) inhibits self-renewal capacity of pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSCs), and synergizes with quercetin, a major polyphenol and flavonoid commonly detected in many fruits and vegetables. Our data demonstrated that SFN inhibited self-renewal capacity of pancreatic CSCs. Inhibition of Nanog by lentiviral-mediated shRNA expression enhanced the inhibitory effects of sulforaphane on self-renewal capacity of CSCs. SFN induced apoptosis by inhibiting the expression of Bcl-2 and XIAP, phosphorylation of FKHR, and activating caspase-3. Moreover, SFN inhibited expression of proteins involved in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (β-catenin, vimentin, twist-1, and ZEB1), suggesting the blockade of signaling involved in early metastasis. Furthermore, the combination of quercetin with SFN had synergistic effects on self-renewal capacity of pancreatic CSCs. These data suggest that SFN either alone or in combination with quercetin can eliminate cancer stem cell-characteristics.