Colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent noncommunicable diseases worldwide. 5-Fluorouracil is the mainstay of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. Previously, we have demonstrated that high glucose diminishes the cytotoxicity of 5-fluorouracil by promoting cell cycle progression. The synergistic impact of rosiglitazone on 5-fluorouracil-induced apoptosis was further investigated in this study. Besides control cell lines (CCD-18Co), two human colonic carcinoma cell lines (HCT 116 and HT 29) were exposed to different treatments containing 5-fluorouracil, rosiglitazone or 5-fluorouracil/rosiglitazone combination under normal glucose (5.5 mM) and high-glucose (25 mM) conditions. The cellular oxidative stress level was evaluated with biomarkers of nitric oxide, advanced oxidation protein products, and reduced glutathione. The cell apoptosis was assessed using flow cytometry technique. High glucose caused the production of reduced glutathione in HCT 116 and HT 29 cells. Correspondingly, high glucose suppressed the apoptotic effect of 5-fluorouracil and rosiglitazone. As compared to 5-fluorouracil alone (2 µg/mL), addition of rosiglitazone significantly enhanced the apoptosis (increment rate of 5-20%) in a dose-dependent manner at normal glucose and high glucose levels. This study indicates that high-glucose-induced reduced glutathione confers resistance to apoptosis, but it can be overcome upon treatment of 5-fluorouracil and 5-fluorouracil/rosiglitazone combination. Rosiglitazone may be a promising antidiabetic drug to reduce the chemotherapeutic dose of 5-fluorouracil for colorectal cancer complicated with hyperglycemia.
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