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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2002;505:135-9.

The citrus methoxyflavone tangeretin affects human cell-cell interactions.

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Department of Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine and Experimental Cancerology, Ghent University Hospital, Gent, Belgium.


Two effects of the citrus methoxyflavone tangeretin on cell-cell interactions are biologically relevant. Firstly, tangeretin upregulates the function of the E-cadherin/catenin complex in human MCF-7/6 breast carcinoma cells. This leads to firm cell-cell adhesion and inhibition of invasion in vitro. Secondly, tangeretin downregulates the interleukin-2 receptor on T-lymphocytes and natural killer cells. This leads to a decrease in the cytotoxic competence of these immunocytes against cancer cells. The second effect can become important when high doses of tangeretin are combined with adjuvant tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer. Experiments with nude mice bearing MCF-7/6 tumors showed that tangeretin given orally at high doses, abrogated the therapeutic suppression of tumor growth exerted by tamoxifen. No evidence for a tumor promoting effect of tangeretin by itself was found in these experiments. Tangeretin may be an interesting molecule for application in cases where immunosuppression could be clinically beneficial.

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