Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 157–167

Inhibitory effects of fucoxanthinol on the viability of human breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 are correlated with modulation of the NF-kappaB pathway

Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10565-014-9277-2

Cite this article as:
Rwigemera, A., Mamelona, J. & Martin, L.J. Cell Biol Toxicol (2014) 30: 157. doi:10.1007/s10565-014-9277-2


Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid present in the chloroplasts of brown seaweeds. When ingested, it is metabolized mainly to fucoxanthinol in the gastrointestinal tract by digestive enzymes. These compounds have been shown to have many beneficial health effects. The present study was designed to evaluate the molecular mechanisms of action of fucoxanthin and/or of its metabolite fucoxanthinol against viability of estrogen-sensitive MCF-7 and estrogen-resistant MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines. Fucoxanthin and fucoxanthinol reduced the viability of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells in dose- and time-dependent manners as a result of increased apoptosis. Furthermore, fucoxanthinol-induced apoptosis was more potent than that of fucoxanthin and correlated, for MDA-MB-231 cells, with inhibitory actions on members of the NF-κB pathway p65, p50, RelB, and p52. Being overexpressed and regulated by NF-κB in different types of cancers, the transcription factor SOX9 was also decreased at the nuclear level by fucoxanthin and fucoxanthinol in MDA-MB-231. Taken together, the current results suggest that fucoxanthinol and fucoxanthin could be potentially effective for the treatment and/or prevention of different types of cancers, including breast cancer.


Fucoxanthin Fucoxanthinol MCF-7 MDA-MB-231 Viability Apoptosis PARP p65 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arlette Rwigemera
    • 1
  • Jean Mamelona
    • 1
  • Luc J. Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversité de MonctonMonctonCanada