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Pomegranate Ellagitannin-Derived Compounds Exhibit Anti-proliferative and Anti-aromatase Activity in Breast Cancer Cells In Vitro

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Estrogen stimulates the proliferation of breast cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors. The aromatase enzyme, which converts androgen to estrogen, plays a key role in breast carcinogenesis. The pomegranate fruit, a rich source of ellagitannins (ET), has attracted recent attention due to its anticancer and antiatherosclerotic properties. On consumption, pomegranate ETs hydrolyze, releasing ellagic acid, which is then converted to 3,8-dihydroxy-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran-6-one ("urolithin") derivatives by gut microflora. The purpose of this study was to investigate the antiaromatase activity and inhibition of testosterone-induced breast cancer cell proliferation by ET-derived compounds isolated from pomegranates. A panel of 10 ET-derived compounds including ellagic acid, gallagic acid, and urolithins A and B (and their acetylated, methylated, and sulfated analogues prepared in our laboratory) were examined for their ability to inhibit aromatase activity and testosterone-induced breast cancer cell proliferation. Using a microsomal aromatase assay, we screened the panel of ET-derived compounds and identified six with antiaromatase activity. Among these, urolithin B (UB) was shown to most effectively inhibit aromatase activity in a live cell assay. Kinetic analysis of UB showed mixed inhibition, suggesting more than one inhibitory mechanism. Proliferation assays also determined that UB significantly inhibited testosterone-induced MCF-7aro cell proliferation. The remaining test compounds also exhibited antiproliferative activity, but to a lesser degree than UB. These studies suggest that pomegranate ET-derived compounds have potential for the prevention of estrogen-responsive breast cancers.
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... Although UroA is known as a generally more potent anticancer compound than UroB, the anticancer activity of UroB has been evaluated in some studies (L. S. Adams et al., 2010;Lv et al., 2019). urolithins and EA had no effect on p53 gene expression. ...
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... • Urolithin B, a metabolite of ellagitannin, can inhibit testosterone-induced proliferation of MCF-7 cells associated with breast cancer (69). ...
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... 39 In this sense, several studies have shown that ellagic acid (EA) and especially its metabolites, the urolithins, exert a wide range of beneficial health effects including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-estrogenic and anti-carcinogenic effects. [26][27][28][29][30][31] However, until now there has been no evidence of their systemic effect on endometriotic-like lesion development in an in vivo model of endometriosis. ...
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