Research Article

Different responses of vanillic acid, a phenolic compound, in HTC cells: cytotoxicity, antiproliferative activity, and protection from DNA-induced damage.

Published: December 19, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(4): gmr15049388 DOI:


The consumption of healthy and natural foods has increased over the last few years, primarily because these foods are rich in substances with biological properties of interest, such as exerting anticancer effects and decreasing oxidative stress in living tissues. These foods support adequate nutrition, maintain health, and improve quality of life. Vanillic acid (VA) is a phenolic compound used widely in the food industry as a flavoring, preservative, and food additive. VA can be found in various cereals, whole grains, fruits, herbs, green tea, juices, beers, and wines and possesses antioxidant, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, and antiapoptotic activities. Studying the cytotoxicity as well as the mutagenic and antimutagenic effects of different concentrations of VA in Rattus norvegicus hepatoma cells (HTC) can identify new cellular activities of this substance. Concentrations up to 100 µM VA are not cytotoxic to HTC cells in a MTT [3-(4,5-dimethilthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenil tetrazolium bromide] assay after 96-h exposure; therefore, VA does not compromise mitochondrial activity. Similarly, concentrations up to 500 µM do not compromise plasma membrane integrity. VA at 10 and 50 µM showed no mutagenic/clastogenic effects, as no significant micronuclei induction was observed. VA 10 µM presented no antiproliferative activity and reduced the cytotoxicity induced by benzo[a]pyrene. The antimutagenic activity of 10 µM VA was observed by the simultaneous, pre-, and post-treatments, as the phenolic compound significantly reduced the frequency of micronuclei induced by the mutagen. These results indicate that VA exerts different responses in HTC cells. Low concentrations present no cytotoxic, mutagenic, or antiproliferative effects and protect cells from DNA damage.