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The effects of quercetin on SW480 human colon carcinoma cells: a proteomic study

Michael F Mouat1, Kumar Kolli2, Ronald Orlando2, James L Hargrove1 and Arthur Grider1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

2 Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2005, 4:11  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-11

Published: 4 March 2005



High fruit and vegetable intake is known to reduce the risk of colon cancer. To improve understanding of this phenomenon the action of different phytochemicals on colon cells has been examined. One such compound is quercetin that belongs to the group known as flavonoids. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of quercetin on the proteome of the SW480 human colon adenocarcinoma cell line, specifically to identify proteins that could be the molecular targets of quercetin in its amelioration of the progression of colon cancer. To this end, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry were used to identify proteins that underwent a change in expression following treatment of the cells with 20 μM quercetin. This could elucidate how quercetin may reduce the progression of colon cancer.


Quercetin treatment of the SW480 human colon cancer cells was found to result in the decreased expression of three proteins and the increased expression of one protein. The identified proteins with decreased expression were type II cytoskeletal 8 keratin and NADH dehydrogenase Fe-S protein 3. The other protein with decreased expression was not identified. The protein with increased expression belonged to the annexin family.


Several proteins were determined to have altered expression following treatment with quercetin. Such changes in the levels of these particular proteins could underlie the chemo-protective action of quercetin towards colon cancer.