This paper was published as Leukemia Research, 2009, 33 (1), pp. 140-150. It is available from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01452126. Doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2008.07.025Metadata only entryToxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs towards normal cells is a serious side effect of cancer treatment. Thus, finding of molecules with low toxicity for normal cells is crucial. Several natural compounds, such as flavonoid quercertin, are receiving a growing attention as “chemopreventers”. Quercetin kills tumour-derived cell lines, but little is known about its effects on normal cells. Here we show that although quercetin exerts a higher apoptotic potential on leukemic cell lines than on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and does not sensitize PBMCs to CD95-induced apoptosis, it is able to inhibit normal immune functions such as T cell proliferation and activation. Quercetin sensitivity is independent on cell cycle progression since it was not abrogated in serum-starved U937 cells, nor proliferating PBMCs underwent apoptosis after quercetin treatment. However, quercetin prevented PHA-induced PBMC proliferation and SEB-induced upregulation of activation markers. Our data suggest that quercetin, while incapable of inducing apoptosis in normal cells under several conditions, could interfere with effector T cell function
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