Sumac extract accelerates the aging of breast cancer cells
Recently, the jars and bags of sumac are popping up in the spice rack of many main stream supermarkets. Sumac is a red powder with a fresh, sour taste, made from the berries of the tree Rhus coriaria. According to an in vitro study that biologists from the United Arab Emirates University published in Scientific Reports, sumac contains substances that accelerate aging and induce death of breast cancer cells.
The researchers themselves made alcohol from the fruits of Rhus coriaria [here you can read how], and investigated the effect of this extract on three different types of breast cancer cells. This included estradiol-sensitive MCF-7 cells and hormone-insensitive MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.
According to studies, there are 121 different bioactive substances in Rhus coriaria. The researchers did not look at those substances separately.
Exposure to the Rhus coriaria extract reduced the vitality of all three types of breast cancer cells. Below you can see the effect of sumac on MDA-MBA-231 and MCF-7.
The researchers then focused on what the sumac extract could do with the MDA-MBA-231 cells. The greater the Rhus coriaria concentration, the more cancer cells died, you see above.
The researchers determined the aging of the cancer cells based on the production of senescence-associated-beta-galactosidase. The figure below shows that Rhus coriaria significantly accelerated the aging process of the MDA-MBA-231 cells.
Rhus coriaria activated the p21 gene and increased the production of the p21 protein, "also known as cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1 or CDK-interacting protein 1". As those names reveal, p21 is "a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor that is capable of inhibiting all cyclin/CDK complexes".
CDK enzymes play a key role in the growth, development and multiplication of cells - and therefore also of cancer cells.
"The results of our study demonstrates, for the first time, the potential chemotherapeutic effect of the perennial edible plant, Rhus coriaria, on the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro through the induction of autophagy and senescence", the researchers write
"Rhus coriaria [...] might be a valuable source of potentially new natural anti-breast cancer compound(s) that act by triggering autophagic cell death. Therefore, this plant deserves more explorations in order to identify the bioactive phytochemical(s) conferring its anti-breast cancer activity."
Sci Rep. 2015 Aug 12;5:13013.
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