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Life Extension Magazine

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July 2002


The inhibition of the estrogenic effects of pesticides and environmental chemicals by curcumin and isoflavonoids.

Many environmental chemicals and pesticides have been found to be estrogenic and have been shown to stimulate the growth of estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) human breast cancer cells. Since it is difficult to avoid human exposure to environmental estrogens, a potentially important area of research is the development of dietary strategies to prevent the stimulated growth of breast tumors by environmental estrogens. In this context, the inhibitory action of curcumin and a combination of curcumin and isoflavonoids were studied in ER-positive human breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and T47D) and ER-negative MDA-MB-231 cells induced by the pesticide o,p’-DDT and the environmental pollutants 4-nonylphenol and 4-octylphenol. The median inhibitory concentration (IC50) for curcumin in T47D cells was 10 microM when measured at either a 48-hr or a 6-day incubation time. The IC50 value for curcumin was within the 8-10 microM range for inhibiting the growth of T47D cells induced by a 10 microM concentration each of 4-nonylphenol, 4-octylphenol, and o, p’-DDT. The IC50 for curcumin in MCF-7 cells induced by 10 microM of either o,p’-DDT, 4-octylphenol, or 4-nonylphenol were 9, 39, and >50 microM, respectively. A combination of curcumin and isoflavonoids was able to inhibit the induced growth of ER-positive cells up to 95%. For MDA-MB-231 cells, the IC50 for curcumin was 17 microM, which was reduced to 11 microM in the presence of 25 microM genistein. Curcumin and genistein induce drastic changes in the morphological shape of both ER-positive and ER-negative cells. Data presented here indicate that a mixture of curcumin and isoflavonoids is the most potent inhibitor against the growth of human breast tumor cells. These data suggest that combinations of natural plant compounds may have preventive and therapeutic applications against the growth of breast tumors induced by environmental estrogens.

Environ Health Perspect 1998 Dec;106(12):807-12

Effect of curcumin on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and cytochrome P450 1A1 in MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells.

We examined the interaction of curcumin, a dietary constituent and chemopreventive compound, with the carcinogen activation pathway mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in MCF-7 mammary epithelial carcinoma cells. Curcumin caused a rapid accumulation of cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) mRNA in a time- and concentration-dependent manner, and CYP1A1 monooxygenase activity increased as measured by ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylation. Curcumin activated the DNA-binding capacity of the AhR for the xenobiotic responsive element of CYP1A1 as measured by the electrophoretic-mobility shift assay (EMSA). Curcumin was able to compete with the prototypical AhR ligand 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin for binding to the AhR in isolated MCF-7 cytosol, indicating that it interacts directly with the receptor. Although curcumin could activate the AhR on its own, it partially inhibited the activation of AhR, as measured by EMSA, and partially decreased the accumulation of CYP1A1 mRNA caused by the mammary carcinogen dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA). Curcumin competitively inhibited CYP1A1 activity in DMBA-treated cells and in microsomes isolated from DMBA-treated cells. Curcumin also inhibited the metabolic activation of DMBA, as measured by the formation of DMBA-DNA adducts, and decreased DMBA-induced cytotoxicity. These results suggest that the chemopreventive effect of curcumin may be due, in part, to its ability to compete with aryl hydrocarbons for both the AhR and CYP1A1. Curcumin may thus be a natural ligand and substrate of the AhR pathway.

Biochem Pharmacol 1998 Jul 15;56(2):197-206


Enhancing effects of green tea components on the antitumor activity of adriamycin against M5076 ovarian sarcoma.

We have investigated the combined treatment of components of green tea with adriamycin against M5076 ovarian sarcoma, which exhibits low sensitivity to adriamycin. In M5076 tumor-bearing mice, the injection of adriamycin alone did not inhibit tumor growth, whereas the combination of theanine and adriamycin significantly reduced the tumor weight to 62% of the control level. When combined with theanine, effective antitumor activity of adriamycin was observed without an increase in the dosage. Theanine specifically increased the adriamycin concentration in the tumor by 2.7-fold. In contrast, theanine decreased the adriamycin concentrations in normal tissues. On the other hand, in vitro experiments proved that theanine inhibited the efflux of adriamycin from tumor cells, suggesting a theanine-induced increase in the adriamycin concentration in such tumors in vivo. Furthermore, the oral administration of theanine or green tea similarly enhanced the antitumor activity of adriamycin. In conclusion, the combination of theanine with adriamycin showed antitumor efficacy in spite of the non-effective dose of adriamycin on M5076 ovarian sarcoma. We have found that the modulating action of theanine is useful in clinical cancer chemotherapy.

Cancer Lett 1998 Nov 13;133(1):19-26

Combination of theanine with doxorubicin inhibits hepatic metastasis of M5076 ovarian sarcoma.

Theanine is a peculiar amino acid existing in green tea leaves, which was previously indicated to enhance the antitumor activity of doxorubicin. In the present study, the effect of combination of theanine with doxorubicin against hepatic metastasis of M5076 ovarian sarcoma was investigated. The primary tumor was significantly reduced by the combined treatment on M5076 transplanted (s.c.) mice. The liver weight of control mice increased to twice the normal level because of hepatic metastasis of M5076. In contrast, the injection of doxorubicin alone or theanine plus doxorubicin suppressed the increase in liver weight and inhibited hepatic metastasis. Moreover, the liver weights and metastasis scores demonstrated that theanine enhanced the inhibition of hepatic metastasis induced by doxorubicin. Furthermore, in vitro experiments indicated that theanine increased the intracellular concentration of doxorubicin remaining in M5076 cells. This action suggests that theanine leads the enhancement of the suppressive efficacy of doxorubicin on hepatic metastasis in vivo. Therefore, it was proved that theanine increased not only the antitumor activity on primary tumor but also the metastasis-suppressive efficacy of doxorubicin. The effect of theanine on the efficacy of antitumor agents is expected to be applicable in clinical cancer chemotherapy.

Clin Cancer Res 1999 Feb;5(2):413-6

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