Thymol elicits HCT-116 colorectal carcinoma cell death through induction of oxidative stress

Anil Kumar Chauhan, Ashutosh Bahuguna, Souren Paul, Sun Chul Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Colon cancer is one of the most deadly and common carcinomas occurring worldwide and there have been many attempts to treat this cancer. The present work was designed in order to evaluate thymol as a potent drug against colon cancer. Materials and Methods: Cytotoxicity of thymol at different concentrations was evaluated against a human colon carcinoma cell line (HCT-116 cells). Fluorescent staining was carried out to evaluate the level of ROS as well as mitochondrial and DNA fragmentation and immunoblot analysis were performed to confirm apoptosis and mitoptosis. Results and Conclusion: Results of the study demonstrated that thymol efficiently created an oxidative stress environment inside HCT-116 cells, a colorectal carcinoma cell line, through induction of ROS production along with intense damage to DNA and mitochondria, as observed through Hoechst and rhodamine 123 staining, respectively. Moreover, expression of PARP-1, p-JNK, cytochrome-C and caspase-3 proteins was up-regulated, suggesting HCT-116 cells underwent mitoptotic cell death. Therefore, thymol could be used as a potent drug against colon cancer due to its lower toxicity and prevalence in natural medicinal plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1942-1950
Number of pages9
JournalAnti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by NRF - 2016R1A2B4009227 grant.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by NRF -

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Bentham Science Publishers.


  • Cell death
  • Colon carcinoma
  • Mitochondrial fragmentation
  • Mitoptosis
  • Oxidative stress
  • Thymol

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