How eating fruit and vegetables can improve cancer patients' response to chemotherapy

Oct 22, 2008

The leading cause of death in all cancer patients continues to be the resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapy, a form of treatment in which chemicals are used to kill cells.

Now a study by UC Riverside biochemists that focuses on cancer cells reports that ingesting apigenin – a naturally occurring dietary agent found in vegetables and fruit – improves cancer cells' response to chemotherapy.

Xuan Liu, a professor of biochemistry, and Xin Cai, a postdoctoral researcher working in her lab, found that apigenin localizes tumor suppressor p53, a protein, in the cell nucleus – a necessary step for killing the cell that results in some tumor cells responding to chemotherapy.

The study, published this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a novel approach to conquer tumor resistance to chemotherapy, and suggests an avenue for developing safe chemotherapy via naturally occurring agents.

Normally, cells have low levels of p53 diffused in their cytoplasm and nucleus. When DNA in the nucleus is damaged, p53 moves to the nucleus where it activates genes that stop cell growth and cause cell death. In this way, p53 ensures that cells with damaged DNA are killed.

In many cancers, p53 is rendered inactive by a process called cytoplasmic sequestration. Apigenin is able to activate p53 and transport it into the nucleus, resulting in a stop to cell growth and cell death.

"In therapy you want to kill cancer cells," explained Cai, the first author of the research paper. "But to stop cell growth and to kill the cell, p53 first needs to be moved to the cell's nucleus to function. Apigenin is very effective in localizing p53 this way."

Apigenin is mainly found in fruit (including apples, cherries, grapes), vegetables (including parsley, artichoke, basil, celery), nuts and plant-derived beverages (including tea and wine). It has been shown by researchers to have growth inhibitory properties in several cancer lines, including breast, colon, skin, thyroid and leukemia cells. It has also been shown to inhibit pancreatic cancer cell proliferation.

"Our study advocates the inclusion of vegetables and fruit in our daily diet to help prevent cancer," said Liu, the research paper's coauthor.

Source: University of California - Riverside

Explore further: Early hormone therapy may be safe for women's hearts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Social Security spent $300M on 'IT boondoggle'

5 hours ago

(AP)—Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims.

Cheaper wireless plans cut into AT&T 2Q profit

5 hours ago

(AP)—AT&T posted lower net income for the latest quarter due to cheaper cellphone plans it introduced as a response to aggressive pricing from smaller competitor T-Mobile US.

Awarded a Pell Grant? Better double-check

5 hours ago

(AP)—Potentially tens of thousands of students awarded a Pell Grant or other need-based federal aid for the coming school year could find it taken away because of a mistake in filling out the form.

Recommended for you

Early hormone therapy may be safe for women's hearts

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Healthy women at low risk of cardiovascular disease may be able to take hormone replacement therapy soon after menopause for a short time without harming their hearts, according to a new study.

Low yield for repeat colonoscopy in some patients

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Repeat colonoscopies within 10 years are of little benefit to patients who had no polyps found on adequate examination; however, repeat colonoscopies do benefit patients when the baseline examination was compromised, ...

Cell's recycling center implicated in division decisions

12 hours ago

Most cells do not divide unless there is enough oxygen present to support their offspring, but certain cancer cells and other cell types circumvent this rule. Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have now identified ...

User comments : 0