Background and Purpose Doxorubicin-based chemotherapy induces cardiotoxicity, which limits its clinical application. We previously reported the protective effects of quercetin against doxorubicin-induced hepatotoxicity. In this study, we tested the effects of quercetin on the expression of Bmi-1, a protein regulating mitochondrial function and ROS generation, as a mechanism underlying quercetin-mediated protection against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. Experimental Approach Effects of quercetin on doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity was evaluated using H9c2 cardiomyocytes and C57BL/6 mice. Changes in apoptosis, mitochondrial function, oxidative stress and related signalling were evaluated in H9c2 cells. Cardiac function, serum enzyme activity and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation were measured in mice after a single injection of doxorubicin with or without quercetin pre-treatment. Key Results In H9c2 cells, quercetin reduced doxorubicin-induced apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction, ROS generation and DNA double-strand breaks. The quercetin-mediated protection against doxorubicin toxicity was characterized by decreased expression of Bid, p53 and oxidase (p47 and Nox1) and by increased expression of Bcl-2 and Bmi-1. Bmi-1 siRNA abolished the protective effect of quercetin against doxorubicin-induced toxicity in H9c2 cells. Furthermore, quercetin protected mice from doxorubicin-induced cardiac dysfunction that was accompanied by reduced ROS levels and lipid peroxidation, but enhanced the expression of Bmi-1 and anti-oxidative superoxide dismutase. Conclusions and Implications Our results demonstrate that quercetin decreased doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in vitro and in vivo by reducing oxidative stress by up-regulation of Bmi-1 expression. The findings presented in this study have potential applications in preventing doxorubicin-induced cardiomyopathy.
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