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Life Sci. 2008 Aug 15;83(7-8):293-300. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2008.06.017. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Synergistic effects of multiple natural products in pancreatic cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, United States.


Pancreatic cancer (PC) remains the fourth most common cause of cancer related death in the United States. Therefore, novel strategies for the prevention and treatment are urgently needed. Numerous dietary and pharmacological agents have been proposed as alternative strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of PC. Isoflavone is a prominent flavonoid found in soy products and has been proposed to be responsible for lowering the incidence of PC in Asians. Similarly, curcumin, an active ingredient of turmeric, that inhibits growth of malignant neoplasms, has a promising role in the prevention and/or treatment of PC. Here we examined whether isoflavone together with curcumin could elicit a greater inhibition of growth of PC cells than either agent alone, and also sought to determine the molecular mechanism of action. We found that the inhibition of cell growth and induction of apoptosis was significantly greater in the combination group than that could be achieved by either agent alone. These changes were associated with decreased Notch-1 expression and DNA binding activity of NF-kappaB and its target genes such as Cyclin D1, Bcl-2, and Bcl-xL. Moreover, we found that the combination of four natural agents at lower concentration was much more effective. Collectively, our results suggest that diet containing multiple natural products should be preferable over single agents for the prevention and/or treatment of PC. The superior effects of the combinatorial treatment could partly be attributed to the inhibition of constitutive activation of Notch-1 and NF-kappaB signaling pathways.

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