Redox imbalance is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. Activation of the nuclear factor E2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) antioxidant responsive element (ARE) pathway is an intrinsic defense mechanism against oxidative stress. Flavonoids such as anthocyanidins, which are found abundantly in fruits and vegetables, have been shown to activate Nrf2. However, the epigenetic and genetic mechanisms by which anthocyanidins modulate the Nrf2-ARE pathway remain poorly understood in the context of skin cancer. In this study, delphinidin, one of the most potent and abundant anthocyanidins in berries, significantly inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)–induced neoplastic cell transformation in mouse epidermal JB6 P+ cells by 69.4 to 99.4%. The mechanism was elucidated based on observations of increased ARE-driven luciferase activity and elevated mRNA and protein expression of Nrf2 downstream genes, such as heme oxygenase-1 (Ho-1), in JB6 P+ cells. Activation of the Nrf2-ARE pathway was correlated with demethylation of 15 CpG sites in the mouse Nrf2 promoter region between nt − 1226 and − 863 from the transcription start site. The reduced CpG methylation ratio in the Nrf2 promoter region was consistent with observed decreases in the protein expression of DNA methyltransferases 1 (DNMT1), DNMT3a, and class I/II histone deacetylases (HDACs). Overall, our results suggest that delphinidin, an epigenetic demethylating agent of the Nrf2 promoter, can activate the Nrf2-ARE pathway, which can be applied as a potential skin cancer chemopreventive agent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmaceutical Science
- DNA methylation
- skin cancer