Recombinant Human erythropoietin reduces viability of MCF-7 breast cancer cells from 3D culture without caspase activation

Hareth Y. ShujaaEdin, Nagi A. AL-Haj, Abdullah Rasedee, Noorjahan Banu Alitheen, Arifah Abdul Kadir, Chee Wun How, Heshu Sulaiman Rahman, Al Shwyeh Hussah Abdullah

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) is the erythropoiesis-stimulating hormone that is being used concurrently with chemotherapeutic drugs in the treatment of anemia of cancer. The effect of rHuEPO on cancer cells in 3-dimensional (3D) cultures is not known. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of rHuEPO on the viability of MCF-7 breast cancer cells from 2-dimensional (2D) and 3D cell cultures. The monolayer MCF-7 cells from 2D culture and MCF-7 cell from 3D culture generated by ultra-low adhesive microplate technique, were treated with 0, 0.1, 10, 100 or 200 IU/mL rHuEPO for 24, 48 or 72 h. The effects of rHuEPO on MCF-7 cell viability and proliferation were determined using the (4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay (MTT), neutral red retention time (NRRT), trypan blue exclusion assay (TBE), DNA fragmentation, acridine orange/propidium iodide staining (AO/PI) assays. The MCF-7 cells for 3D culture were also subjected to caspase assays and cell cycle analysis using flow cytometry. rHuEPO appeared to have greater effect at lowering the viability of MCF-7 cells from 3D than 2D cultures. rHuEPO significantly (p < 0.05) decreased viability and down-regulated the caspase activities of 3D MCF-7 cells in dose- and time-dependent manner. The cell cycle analysis showed that rHuEPO caused MCF-7 cells to enter the subG0/G1 phase. Thus, the study suggests that rHuEPO has a cytostatic effect on the MCF-7 breast cancer cells from 3D culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2549-2557
Number of pages9
JournalSaudi Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • 2-dimensional MCF-7 cell culture
  • 3-dimensional MCF-7 cell culture
  • MCF-7 cell
  • Recombinant human erythropoietin

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