Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pomegranates May Prevent Growth of Breast cancer cells.....

We know that Pomegranate aril juice provides about 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and antioxidant polyphenols.  The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate juice are the hydrolyzable tannins called punicalagins which have free-radical scavenging properties in laboratory experiments. Punicalagins are absorbed into the human body and may have dietary value as antioxidants. Other phytochemicals include polyphenols catechins, gallocatechins, and anthocyanins such as prodelphinidins, delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin.   Many food and dietary supplement makers have found advantages of using pomegranate phenolic extracts as ingredients in their products instead of the juice. One of these extracts is ellagic acid which may become bioavailable only after parent molecule punicalagins are metabolized. However, ingested ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not accumulate in the blood in significant quantities and is rapidly excreted. Accordingly, ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not appear to be biologically important in vivo.

Now researchers lead by Dr Shiuan Chen, director of the Division of Tumour Cell Biology, and Dr Lynn Adams, a research fellow at the centre's Beckman Research Institute have found that Pomegranates contain a group of compounds called ellagitannins ( glucosidesof elligacic acid) may prevent the growth of breast cancer cells. Researchers tried to determine whether chemicals in pomegranates could block the action of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase plays a key role in driving the growth of some forms of breast cancer by helping the body produce the female sex hormone oestrogen. Breast cancer drugs like anastrozole are designed to block its action.

The researchers screened ten ellagitannin-like compounds and found that one in particular, Urolithin B, (see above structure) significantly inhibited breast cancer cell growth in the laboratory. Its interesting to note that phytochemicals in pomegranates to exhibit this property (earlier the same authors have reported the inhibition of aromatase by grapes (phytochemicals).

Though further studies like in vivo are essential to further substantiate the in vitro studies (relatively high levels of ellagitannin compounds were required to demonstrate an anti-proliferative effect on cultured breast cancer cells) are essential (because of the fact that  the ellagitannins are not well absorbed into blood when provided in the diet), still in my opinion its a good finding......

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