Ecdysterone kills breast cancer cells
Women who consume a relatively large amount of ecdysterone through supplements or foods like spinach and quinoa may protect themselves against breast cancer. And for women who already have breast cancer, ecdysterone may make chemo treatments more effective. Molecular biologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Petersburg come to this conclusion in Frontiers in Pharmacology.
The researchers exposed cancer cells in Petri dishes to ecdysterone. The Russians experimented with hormone-sensitive MCF-7 breast cancer cells and with two hormone-insensitive breast cancer cell types, MDA-MB-468 and MDA-MD-231. Below we limit ourselves to the results of the tests with MCF-7 cells. The results of the experiments with the other cell types were not essentially different.
When the researchers exposed healthy cells to the same concentrations, they were found to be resistant to ecdysterone. Cancer cells responded differently. Ecydysterone killed the breast cancer cells, you can see below. The lower the absorbance in the figure below, the lower the viability of the cells.
The dots above are colonies of breast cancer cells. Since ecdysterone decreases the formation of colonies, you might hypothesize that ecdysterone may be able to slow the spread of breast cancer cells.
Even better were the results of experiments in which the Russians simultaneously exposed breast cancer to both ecdysterone and the cytostatic doxorubicin, a substance that oncologists administer in chemotherapy. Ecdysterone made doxorubicin even more deadly to the cancer cells.
Ecdysterone disrupts the energy balance of breast cancer cells, the Russians discovered. This makes the cells more vulnerable.
Incidentally, ecdysterone also enhanced the effect of exposure with the glucose analogue 2-deoxy-glucose. Cells cannot convert 2-deoxy-glucose into energy, but the analog can displace glucose. To a certain extent, we speculate cheerfully and without too much knowledge, administration of 2-deoxy-glucose imitates the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet.
"Our results indicate that ecdysterone can be considered as a new potential adjuvant for genotoxic therapy in treatment of breast cancer patients", write the researchers. "Furthermore, since ecdysterone enhances the ability to cope with stress and enhances resistance to tiredness, it seems beneficial to administer it as part of cytotoxic therapy with doxorubicin."
"However, additional experiments aimed at the elucidation of effectiveness of ecdysterone and its toxicity to organs and tissues are required to assess the therapeutic potential of ecdysterone as an adjuvant therapy to treat breast cancer."
Front Pharmacol. 2020 Oct 30;11:561537.
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