Cr(VI) is well known environmental carcinogen. Its mechanism of action or prevention remains to be investigated. Our preliminary studies have shown that exposure of human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells to Cr(VI) generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are responsible for Cr(VI)-induced cell transformation. After transformation, these cells exhibit constitutive expressions of Nrf2 and its target antioxidant proteins, resulting in decreased ROS generation. The constitutive expression of Nrf2 activates Bcl-2 through binding of Nrf2 to antioxidant responsive element (ARE) of Bcl-2 gene promoter, leading to increased survival and tumorigenicity of these transformed cells. These preliminary studies indicate that in non-transformed cells activation of Nrf2 may decrease ROS generation, thus inhibit Cr(VI)-induced cell transformation. In contrast, in Cr(VI)-transformed cells inactivation of constitutive expression of Nrf2 may decrease Bcl-2 and increase ROS, leading to inhibitions of survival and tumorigenicity of transformed cells. We have screened various natural compounds attempting to select those with two properties: (a) to activate Nrf2 and decrease ROS in non- transformed cells to prevent Cr(VI)-induced cell transformation and (b) to inhibit constitutive expression of Nrf2 and enhance ROS and apoptosis in Cr(VI)-transformed cells to prevent tumorigenesis. We have found that luteolin, a natural compound, has such dual properties. The central hypothesis is that luteolin protects Cr(VI)- induced carcinogenesis both by inducing transient activation of Nrf2 in non-transformed cells, resulting in inhibition of Cr(VI-induced cell transformation and by inactivating constitutive expression of Nrf2 in Cr(VI)- transformed cells, resulting in inhibitions of survival and tumorigenesi of Cr(VI)-transformed cell and angiogenesis.
Aim 1 will study prevention of luteolin against Cr(VI)-induced cell transformation. We will study luteolin-induced activations of Nrf2 and its target antioxidant genes, and decreases of Cr(VI)-generated ROS. The integration of these molecular events is likely to be responsible for protection of luteolin against Cr(VI)- induced cells transformation.
Aim 2 will demonstrate that in Cr(VI)-transformed cells luteolin is able to inhibit constitutive expressions of Nrf2, increase ROS level, and decrease survival and tumorigenicity of Cr(VI)- transformed cells. The protection of luteolin against Cr(VI)-induced angiogenesis in animal exposed to Cr(VI) via drinking water will also be investigated.
Aim 3 will investigate protection o luteolin against Cr(VI)-induced carcinogenicity in CD1 mice using a recently established animal model of whole-life chronic metal exposure. The animals will be exposed to Cr(VI) in the presence and absence of luteolin via drinking water in the whole life time from breeding to adulthood. The roles of Nrf2 and its key target will be studied. Tumors will be assessed in the offspring up to 2 years of adulthood. The proposed study will not only gain novel mechanistic insight in Cr(VI) carcinogenesis, but also have potential translational impact of using chemopreventive compounds targeting Nrf2 signaling pathway to combat Cr(VI)-induced carcinogenicity.

Public Health Relevance

The study will show that luteolin protects Cr(VI) carcinogenesis by activation of inducible Nrf2 in pre-malignant stage to prevent cell transformation and by inactivation of constitutive expression of Nrf2 in later stage to prevent tumorigenesis. The expected results will demonstrate the roles of oxidative stress and Nrf2 in the mechanism of Cr(VI) carcinogenesis and the strategy for prevention.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
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Xenobiotic and Nutrient Disposition and Action Study Section (XNDA)
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Shaughnessy, Daniel
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University of Kentucky
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Wang, Yuting; Mandal, Ardhendu Kumar; Son, Young-Ok et al. (2018) Roles of ROS, Nrf2, and autophagy in cadmium-carcinogenesis and its prevention by sulforaphane. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 353:23-30
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Son, Young-Ok; Pratheeshkumar, Poyil; Wang, Yuting et al. (2017) Protection from Cr(VI)-induced malignant cell transformation and tumorigenesis of Cr(VI)-transformed cells by luteolin through Nrf2 signaling. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 331:24-32
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Pratheeshkumar, Poyil; Son, Young-Ok; Divya, Sasidharan Padmaja et al. (2016) Oncogenic transformation of human lung bronchial epithelial cells induced by arsenic involves ROS-dependent activation of STAT3-miR-21-PDCD4 mechanism. Sci Rep 6:37227
Pratheeshkumar, Poyil; Son, Young-Ok; Divya, Sasidharan Padmaja et al. (2016) Hexavalent chromium induces malignant transformation of human lung bronchial epithelial cells via ROS-dependent activation of miR-21-PDCD4 signaling. Oncotarget 7:51193-51210
Wang, Lei; Fan, Jia; Hitron, John Andrew et al. (2016) Cancer Stem-Like Cells Accumulated in Nickel-Induced Malignant Transformation. Toxicol Sci 151:376-87
Son, Young-Ok; Pratheeshkumar, Poyil; Roy, Ram Vinod et al. (2015) Antioncogenic and Oncogenic Properties of Nrf2 in Arsenic-induced Carcinogenesis. J Biol Chem 290:27090-100

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