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J Med Assoc Thai. 2003 Jan;86(1):61-8.

Effect of bitter melon (Momordica charantia Linn) on level and function of natural killer cells in cervical cancer patients with radiotherapy.

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  • 1Lampang Regional Cancer Center, Lampang 52000, Thailand.

Abstract

Cervical cancer patients have a defective immune system. There is a decrease of total white blood cell count including lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells, one type of lymphocytes, play a role to eliminate cancer cells by antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) mechanism. Previous studies have shown that P-glycoprotein (170 kDa, transmembrane protein) may be a transporter for cytokine releasing in ADCC mechanism. This study proposed to explore the role of bitter melon intake in cervical cancer patients undergoing normal treatment (radiotherapy). Subjects were divided into three groups: 1) normal control (women 35-55 years, n = 35), 2) patient control (n = 30) and 3) patient treatment (n = 30) groups. Patient control and patient treatment groups were cervical cancer patients (stage II or III) treated with radiotherapy (without or with bitter melon ingestion). Blood samples of patient control and patient treatment groups were analyzed for NK cells percentage and P-glycoprotein level. Bitter melon is a Thai herb. Previous studies have shown that bitter melon can stimulate lymphocyte activity in vitro and in vivo (mouse). The authors hope that bitter melon could stimulate the increase of NK cells percentage and P-glycoprotein level on the membrane in blood samples from cervical cancer patients who ingest bitter melon. The results showed an increased percentage of NK cells in patient control and patient treatment groups. The increase in each group is significant (p < 0.05) when compared with the percentage of NK cells from second and third blood sampling time (after radiation with of without bitter melon intake for 45 and 90 days) with first blood sampling time (before treatment). The results also show a significant decrease of P-glycoprotein level (p < 0.05) in second and third blood sampling times when compared with first blood sampling time of the patient treatment group. There was no significant difference of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) level from first, second and third blood sampling times in patient control group. Bitter melon ingestion did not affect NK cell level but it affected the decrease of P-gp level on NK cell membrane.

PMID:
12678140
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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