Pepper can slow the effect of lung cancer

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Findings from a new study show that the compound responsible for chili (hot) peppers’ heat could help slow the spread of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. Most cancer-related deaths occur when cancer spreads to distant sites, a process called metastasis.

“Lung cancer and other cancers commonly metastasize to secondary locations like the brain, liver or bone, making them difficult to treat,” said Jamie Friedman, a doctoral candidate who performed the research in the laboratory of Piyali Dasgupta, PhD, at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “Our study suggests that the natural compound capsaicin from chili peppers could represent a novel therapy to combat metastasis in lung cancer patients.”

Friedman presented the research at the American Society for Investigative Pathology annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting held April 7-9 in Orlando, Florida, United States.In experiments involving three lines of cultured human non-small cell lung cancer cells, the researchers observed that capsaicin inhibited invasion, the first step of the metastatic process. They also found that mice with metastatic cancer that consumed capsaicin showed smaller areas of metastatic cancer cells in the lung compared to mice not receiving the treatment.

Additional experiments revealed that capsaicin suppresses lung cancer metastasis by inhibiting activation of the protein Src. This protein plays a role in the signaling that controls cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, motility and adhesion.

“We hope that one day capsaicin can be used in combination with other chemotherapeutics to treat a variety of lung cancers,” said Friedman. “However, using capsaicin clinically will require overcoming its unpleasant side effects, which include gastrointestinal irritation, stomach cramps and a burning sensation.”

The researchers are working to identify capsaicin analogs that will be non-pungent while retaining the anti-tumor activity of capsaicin. They are also trying to identify natural non-pungent capsaicin-like compounds with anti-cancer activity.Jamie Friedman presented this research on Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. during the Experimental Biology Welcome Reception in Valencia Ballroom ABCD, Orange County Convention Center and on Tuesday, April 9 at 8:30 p.m. in Room W108 B (poster 368.1) (abstract).

Also, the plant that adds flavour, colour and bitterness to beer also produces a primary compound that thwarts cancer cells, and two important derivatives of the compound do as well, new research at Oregon State University, United States, shows.

Unlike the primary compound, xanthohumol, known as XN, the derivatives don’t metabolize into phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based chemicals similar to female sex hormones that help some types of tumors grow and can cause other health problems as well.The research showed, for the first time, that the derivatives have cancer-fighting effectiveness similar to that of XN in liver and colon carcinomas. That means the two non-estrogenic derivatives are attractive alternatives for testing, along with XN, in future preclinical studies.

The study was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Xanthohumol is produced by humulus lupulus, the common hop plant. More than 20 years ago, researchers discovered that XN inhibits cell growth in a variety of cancer cell lines.“But a potential problem with XN is that enzymes in the liver and the gut microbiota metabolize it into 8- prenylnaringenin, or 8-PN, the most potent phytoestrogen known,” said the study’s corresponding author, Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the College of Science at Oregon State University and principal investigator at OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute.

The derivatives that don’t metabolize into 8-PN are DXN, short for dihydroxanthohumol, and TXN, which refers to tetrahydroxanthohumol. Earlier, Gombart’s Linus Pauling Institute colleague and co-author Fred Stevens led a study into DXN and TXN’s effects on metabolic syndrome.

“In that previous research we showed that the two derivatives reduced weight gain and improved biomarkers of metabolic syndrome,” Gombart said. “XN had been shown to inhibit proliferation of a variety of cancer cell lines, and in this study, we demonstrated XN’s ability to halt cell growth and kill two liver cancer cell lines and two colon cancer cell lines. We tested liver and colon cancer cell lines because oral consumption of XN and its derivatives can lead to high concentrations in the gut and liver.”

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and liver cancer ranks fifth. The incidence of liver cancer, though, has tripled in the last four decades.“For both of those cancers, discovering new compounds for prevention and treatment is imperative,” Gombart said. “In all the cell lines tested, DXN and TXN inhibited cell growth and caused cell death, as did XN. And for most cell types, DXN and TXN were slightly more potent.”

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting that attracts more than 14,000 scientists and exhibitors from five host societies and more than two dozen guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for exchange among scientists from across the U.S. and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.

ASIP is a society of biomedical scientists who investigate mechanisms of disease. Investigative pathology is an integrative discipline that links the presentation of disease in the whole organism to its fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms. ASIP advocates for the practice of investigative pathology and fosters the professional career development and education of its members.

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