Casein phosphopeptides modulate proliferation and apoptosis in HT-29 cell line through their interaction with voltage-operated L-type calcium channels

Silvia Perego, Stefania Cosentino, Amelia Fiorilli, Guido Tettamanti, Anita Ferraretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the intestinal level, proliferation and apoptosis are modulated by the extracellular calcium concentration; thus, dietary calcium may exert a chemoprotective role on normal differentiated intestinal cells, while it may behave as a carcinogenesis promoter in transformed cells. Calcium in milk is associated with casein and casein phosphopeptides (CPPs), hence is preserved from precipitation. CPPs were demonstrated to induce uptake of extracellular calcium ions by in vitro intestinal tumor HT-29 cells but only upon differentiation. Here, the hypothesis that CPPs could differently affect proliferation and apoptosis in undifferentiated and differentiated HT-29 cells through their binding with calcium ions was investigated. Results showed that CPPs protect differentiated intestinal cells from calcium overload toxicity and prevent their apoptosis favoring proliferation while inducing apoptosis in undifferentiated tumor cells. The CPP effect on undifferentiated HT-29 cells, similar to that exerted by ethyleneglycol-O, O'-bis(2-aminoethyl)-N, N, N', N'-tetraacetic acid (EGTA), is presumably due to the ability in binding the extracellular calcium. The effect on differentiated HT-29 cells is coupled to the interaction of CPPs with the voltage-operated L-type calcium channels, known to activate calcium entry into the cells under depolarization and to exert a mitogenic effect: the use of an agonist potentiates the cell response to CPPs, while the antagonists abolish the response to CPPs (36% of examined cells) or reduce both the percentage of responsive cells and the increase of intracellular calcium concentration. Taken together, these results confirm the potentialities of CPPs as nutraceuticals/functional food and also as modulators of cellular processes connected to the expression of a cancer phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-816
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Calcium
  • Calcium channels
  • Casein phosphopeptides
  • Cell cycle
  • Depolarization
  • Intestinal cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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