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Open Access Research

Iodine and doxorubicin, a good combination for mammary cancer treatment: antineoplastic adjuvancy, chemoresistance inhibition, and cardioprotection

Yunuen Alfaro, Guadalupe Delgado, Alfonso Cárabez, Brenda Anguiano and Carmen Aceves*

Author Affiliations

Instituto de Neurobiología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus-Juriquilla, Querétaro 76230, México

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Molecular Cancer 2013, 12:45  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-12-45

Published: 24 May 2013



Although mammary cancer (MC) is the most common malignant neoplasia in women, the mortality for this cancer has decreased principally because of early detection and the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Of several preparations that cause MC regression, doxorubicin (DOX) is the most active, first-line monotherapeutic. Nevertheless, its use is limited due to the rapid development of chemoresistance and to the cardiotoxicity caused by free radicals. In previous studies we have shown that supplementation with molecular iodine (I2) has a powerful antineoplastic effect in methylnitrosourea (MNU)-induced experimental models of MC. These studies also showed a consistent antioxidant effect of I2 in normal and tumoral tissues.


Here, we analyzed the effect of I2 in combination with DOX treatment in female Sprague Dawley rats with MNU-induced MC. In the first experiment (short) animals were treated with the therapeutic DOX dose (16 mg/kg) or with lower doses (8 and 4 mg/Kg), in each case with and without 0.05% I2 in drinking water. Iodine treatment began on day 0, a single dose of DOX was injected (ip) on day 2, and the analysis was carried out on day 7. In the second experiment (long) animals with and without iodine supplement were treated with one or two injections of 4 mg/kg DOX (on days 0 and 14) and were analyzed on day 56.


At all DOX doses, the short I2 treatment induced adjuvant antineoplastic effects (decreased tumor size and proliferating cell nuclear antigen level) with significant protection against body weight loss and cardiotoxicity (creatine kinase MB, cardiac lipoperoxidation, and heart damage). With long-term I2, mammary tumor tissue became more sensitive to DOX, since a single injection of the lowest dose of DOX (4 mg/Kg) was enough to stop tumor progression and a second DOX4 injection on day 14 caused a significant and rapid decrease in tumor size, decreased the expression of chemoresistance markers (Bcl2 and survivin), and increased the expression of the apoptotic protein Bax and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor type gamma.


The DOX-I2 combination exerts antineoplastic, chemosensitivity, and cardioprotective effects and could be a promising strategy against breast cancer progression.

Mammary cancer; MNU; Iodine; Doxorubicin; Chemoresistance; PPARγ; Cardioprotection