Lung cancer remains a highly prevalent disease and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Currently, exploring antitumor drugs derived from herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine is increasingly becoming an attractive area of research. Paclitaxel (PTX), a highly effective chemotherapeutic drug, is widely used for treating different cancers; however, the clinical use of PTX is dose limited because of its adverse side effects. Chemotherapeutic agents are being developed to enhance the anticancer activity of PTX, particularly for use in combination therapy. 5-Demethylnobiletin (5-DMN), a natural, active compound isolated from orange peel, has been reported to induce apoptosis in several cancer cell lines. In this study, we tested the synergistic anticancer antiproliferative effects of combinations of PTX and 5-DMN on CL1–5 lung cancer cells through the MTT and propidium iodide assays. After low-dose combination treatments (PTX and 5-DMN), a reduction in cell viability and a concomitant increase in apoptosis were observed in the CL1–5 cells. We propose that 5-DMN cooperates with PTX to induce apoptosis via the caspase pathway (by modulating caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9 activities). Furthermore, we observed that the combination treatment significantly suppressed tumor growth in the nude mouse xenograft model. The results suggest that the synergistic effects of PTX and 5-DMN in lung cancer cells deserve particular attention and indicate the possibility of developing additional new strategies for treating lung cancer.
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