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. Cancer Prev Res; 3(1); 108–13
- breast cancer
- Received December 3, 2008.
- Revision received July 29, 2009.
- Accepted July 29, 2009.
- ©2010 American Association for Cancer Research.