Celery, Artichokes Contain Flavonoids That Kill Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2013
URBANA, Ill. –
Celery, artichokes, and herbs, especially Mexican oregano, all contain apigenin
and luteolin, flavonoids that kill human pancreatic cancer cells in the lab by
inhibiting an important enzyme, according to two new University of Illinois
induced cell death in two aggressive human pancreatic cancer cell lines. But we
received the best results when we pre-treated cancer cells with apigenin for 24
hours, then applied the chemotherapeutic drug gemcitabine for 36 hours," said
Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food chemistry and food toxicology.
The trick seemed to
be using the flavonoids as a pre-treatment instead of applying them and the chemotherapeutic
drug simultaneously, said Jodee Johnson, a doctoral student in de Mejia's lab
who has since graduated.
"Even though the
topic is still controversial, our study indicated that taking antioxidant
supplements on the same day as chemotherapeutic drugs may negate the effect of
those drugs," she said.
because flavonoids can act as antioxidants. One of the ways that
chemotherapeutic drugs kill cells is based on their pro-oxidant activity,
meaning that flavonoids and chemotherapeutic drugs may compete with each other
when they're introduced at the same time," she explained.
Pancreatic cancer is
a very aggressive cancer, and there are few early symptoms, meaning that the
disease is often not found before it has spread. Ultimately the goal is to
develop a cure, but prolonging the lives of patients would be a significant
development, Johnson added.
It is the fourth
leading cause of cancer-related deaths, with a five-year survival rate of only
6 percent, she said.
The scientists found
that apigenin inhibited an enzyme called glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β),
which led to a decrease in the production of anti-apoptotic genes in the
pancreatic cancer cells. Apoptosis
means that the cancer cell self-destructs because its DNA has been damaged.
In one of the
cancer cell lines, the percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis went from 8.4
percent in cells that had not been treated with the flavonoid to 43.8 percent
in cells that had been treated with a 50-micromolar dose. In this case, no
chemotherapy drug had been added.
with the flavonoid also modified gene expression. "Certain genes associated
with pro-inflammatory cytokines were highly upregulated," de Mejia said.
to Johnson, the scientists' in vitro study in Molecular Nutrition and Food
Research is the first to show that apigenin treatment can lead to an
increase in interleukin 17s in pancreatic cells, showing its potential
relevance in anti-pancreatic cancer activity.
patients would probably not be able to eat enough flavonoid-rich foods to raise
blood plasma levels of the flavonoid to an effective level. But scientists
could design drugs that would achieve those concentrations, de Mejia said.
And prevention of
this frightening disease is another story. "If you eat a lot of fruits and
vegetables throughout your life, you'll have chronic exposure to these
bioactive flavonoids, which would certainly help to reduce the risk of cancer,"
apigenin modified gene expression associated with inflammation and cancer and
induced apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells through inhibition of
GSK-3β/NF-κB signaling cascade
is available pre-publication online in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research
between dietary flavonoids apigenin or luteolin and chemotherapeutic drugs to
potentiate anti-proliferative effect on human pancreatic cancer cells in vitro is available pre-publication online in
Food and Chemical Toxicology at http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0278691513004912/1-s2.0-S0278691513004912-main.pdf?_tid=c3b88f9a-05ce-11e3-9281-00000aab0f01&acdnat=1376587315_bee4241362cd03044f56c15dc7011e67.
The U of I's
J.L. Johnson and E. Gonzalez de Mejia co-authored both studies, which were
funded by USDA.
Elvira de Mejia, 217-244-3196, firstname.lastname@example.org