Pomegranate sensitizes Tamoxifen action in ER-α positive breast cancer cells

Abstract

It is estimated that one in eight women will be affected with cancer during their lives, which means over 1 million women worldwide will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the year of 2011. Roughly, 70% of breast cancer will be estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-α) positive. The presence of ER-α is associated with better prognosis and is able to determine if tumors will respond to the estrogen-blocking/ER-antagonist drug Tamoxifen (TAM). However, a significant fraction of ER-positive tumors respond with minimal or no response to TAM. It is unclear why some breast cancer cells resist TAM and how to make these cells respond. Early evidence suggests Pomegranate fruit extracts (PFEs) exhibit an anticancer effect against some cancers. The objective of the study was to determine whether PFEs may able to enhance/sensitize the TAM’s effect in ER-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cells. To test the hypothesis, we determined the effect of PFEs on sensitive and TAM-resistant-MCF-7 cell viability and cell death in the presence or absence of TAM under estrogenic or non-estrogenic culture environment. The present studies demonstrated that PFEs enhance the TAM action in both sensitive and TAM-resistant MCF-7 cells through the inhibition of cell viability (regular or estrogen-induced) by inducing cell-death machinery. Collectively, the results showed for the first time that pomegranate combined with TAM may represent a novel and a powerful approach to enhance and sensitize TAM action.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Drs. Snigdha Banerjee for excellent technical assistance, Dr. Peter Van Veldhuizen for critical reading and other CRU members for discussion. The work was supported by the VA Merit Review grants to SK and SKB and Midwest Biomedical Research Foundation for Summer Student stipend to SB.

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Correspondence to Sushanta K. Banerjee.

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Banerjee, S., Kambhampati, S., Haque, I. et al. Pomegranate sensitizes Tamoxifen action in ER-α positive breast cancer cells. J. Cell Commun. Signal. 5, 317–324 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12079-011-0138-y

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Keywords

  • Pomegranate
  • Tamoxifen
  • Estrogen receptor and breast cancer