European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 1303–1316 | Cite as

Oregano demonstrates distinct tumour-suppressive effects in the breast carcinoma model

  • Peter KubatkaEmail author
  • Martin Kello
  • Karol Kajo
  • Peter KruzliakEmail author
  • Desanka Výbohová
  • Ján Mojžiš
  • Marián Adamkov
  • Silvia Fialová
  • Lucia Veizerová
  • Anthony Zulli
  • Martin PéčEmail author
  • Dagmar Statelová
  • Daniel Grančai
  • Dietrich Büsselberg
Original Contribution



There has been a considerable interest in the identification of natural plant foods for developing effective agents against cancer. Thus, the anti-tumour effects of oregano in the in vivo and in vitro breast cancer model were evaluated.


Lyophilized oregano (ORE) was administered at two concentrations of 0.3 and 3 % through diet. The experiment was terminated 14 weeks after carcinogen administration. At autopsy, mammary tumours were removed and prepared for histopathological and immunohistochemical analysis. Moreover, in vitro evaluation in MCF-7 cells was carried out.


Low-dose ORE suppressed tumour frequency by 55.5 %, tumour incidence by 44 %, and tumour volume by 44.5 % compared to control animals. Analysis of rat tumour cells showed Ki67, VEGFR-2, CD24, and EpCAM expression decrease and caspase-3 expression increase after low-dose ORE treatment. High-dose ORE lengthened tumour latency by 12.5 days; moreover, Bcl-2, VEGFR-2, CD24, and EpCAM expression decrease and caspase-3 expression increase in carcinoma cells were observed. Histopathological analysis revealed a decrease in the ratio of high-/low-grade carcinomas in both treated groups. In vitro studies showed that ORE decreased survival and proliferation of MCF-7 cells. In ORE-treated MCF-7 cells, an increase in cells expressing sub-G 0/G 1 DNA content and an increase in the percentage of annexin V/PI positive MCF-7 cells were observed. In vitro, both caspase-dependent and possible non-caspase-dependent apoptotic pathways were found. The deactivation of anti-apoptotic activity of Bcl-2, a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential, and the activation of mitochondrial apoptosis pathway were observed in the ORE-treated MCF-7 cells.


Our results demonstrate, for the first time, a distinct tumour-suppressive effect of oregano in the breast cancer model.


Mammary carcinogenesis Rat Oregano Cancer stem cells Angiogenesis Apoptosis Cell proliferation MCF-7 cells 



Apoptosis-inducing factor


Aldehyde dehydrogenase




Cancer stem cells


Flow cytometry analysis


High-density lipoprotein


High grade


Epithelial cellular adhesion molecule


Low-density lipoprotein


Low grade


Limit of quantification


Human adenocarcinoma cell line, oestrogen receptor positive



ORE 0.3/ORE 3

Experimental group with dietary administered oregano in a concentration of 0.3 and 3 %




Vascular endothelial growth factor


Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2


Very low-density lipoprotein



This work was supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic under the Contract No. VEGA 1/0108/16 and 1/0290/16 and by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the Contract Nos. APVV-0325-07 and APVV-0550-11. This work was supported by the Grant “Martin Biomedical Centre” (ITMS: 26220220187), “Competence center for research and development in diagnosis and therapy”, code: 26220220153, and the Grant FNUSA-ICRC (No. CZ.1.05/1.1.00/02.0123), both projects co-funded from EU sources and European Regional Development Fund. This study was also supported by the project Medicínsky univerzitný park v Košiciach (MediPark, Košice) ITMS:26220220185 supported by Operational Programme Research and Development (OP VaV-2012/2.2/08-RO) (Contract No. OPVaV/12/2013). We thank to Eva Jakubovičová, Agáta Rešetárová, and Margaréta Kondeková for technical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors state that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Kubatka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin Kello
    • 2
  • Karol Kajo
    • 3
  • Peter Kruzliak
    • 4
    Email author
  • Desanka Výbohová
    • 5
  • Ján Mojžiš
    • 2
  • Marián Adamkov
    • 6
  • Silvia Fialová
    • 7
  • Lucia Veizerová
    • 8
  • Anthony Zulli
    • 9
  • Martin Péč
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dagmar Statelová
    • 10
  • Daniel Grančai
    • 7
  • Dietrich Büsselberg
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Medical Biology, Jessenius Faculty of MedicineComenius University in BratislavaMartinSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineP. J. Šafárik UniversityKosiceSlovakia
  3. 3.Department of PathologySlovak Medical University and St. Elisabeth Oncology InstituteBratislavaSlovakia
  4. 4.Laboratory of Structural Biology and Proteomics, Central LaboratoriesFaculty of Pharmacy, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical SciencesBrnoCzech Republic
  5. 5.Department of Anatomy, Jessenius Faculty of MedicineComenius University in BratislavaMartinSlovakia
  6. 6.Department of Histology and Embryology, Jessenius Faculty of MedicineComenius University in BratislavaMartinSlovakia
  7. 7.Department of Pharmacognosy and Botany, Faculty of PharmacyComenius University in BratislavaBratislavaSlovakia
  8. 8.Department of Pharmaceutical Analysis and Nuclear Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Toxicological and Antidoping CenterComenius University in BratislavaBratislavaSlovakia
  9. 9.The Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM), College of Health and BiomedicineVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  10. 10.Clinic of Stomatology and Maxillofacial Surgery, Jessenius Faculty of MedicineComenius University in BratislavaMartinSlovakia
  11. 11.Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Medical College in QatarQatar Foundation – Education CityDohaQatar

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