Luteolin, a natural compound found in some vegetables and herbs, may hold promise for preventing triple-negative breast cancers from spreading, according to recent research.
In “Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells,” researchers reported that luteolin prevented lung metastasis in triple-negative breast cancer mouse models. The study was published in Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy,
“Triple-negative breast cancers are cancer cells that lack three receptors targeted by current chemotherapy regimens. Because of this lack of receptors, common cancer drugs can’t ‘find’ the cells, and doctors must treat the cancer with extremely aggressive and highly toxic treatment strategies,” Salman Hyder, professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, said in a press release. “Women with this type of breast cancer also frequently develop metastatic lesions that originate from drug-resistant cells. Therefore, safer therapeutic therapies that are more effective are being sought for this deadly type of cancer in women.”
The researchers saw that luteolin — a common flavonoid found in celery, broccoli, parsley, and thyme — could prevent breast cancer from progressing in mice by blocking the expression of VEGF, a major growth factor involved in blood vessel formation, tumor growth, and metastasis. They tested the compound in breast cancer models that required progesterone to grow, but given the lack of triple-negative breast cancer therapies, they decided to assess whether it would be effective there.
“Mice exposed to human triple-negative breast cancer cells experienced significantly reduced metastastic growth in their lungs after being treated with luteolin,” Hyder said. “In almost every case, the mice also saw no weight loss, which means luteolin has no toxic effects; this plant compound is both safe and effective.”
Tests in culture dishes showed that the compound worked by preventing triple-negative breast cancer cells from migrating and surviving.
“Triple-negative breast cancer cells are highly mobile in the body, which helps them metastasize to other organs throughout the body,” Hyder said. “We found that luteolin inhibits that migration and also can kill cancer cells. We contend that these studies support further investigation of luteolin as an anti-metastatic agent that could be used to combat triple-negative breast cancer and its metastasis.”
If additional studies are successful within the next few years, University of Missouri officials will ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to move luteolin into clinical development, the release said.