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Nutr Cancer. 2003;45(2):218-25.

Antitumor activity of extract of Zingiber aromaticum and its bioactive sesquiterpenoid zerumbone.

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  • 1CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition, PO Box 10041, Kintore Avenue, Adelaide DC, South Australia 5000.


The anticancer properties of zerumbone (2,6,9 humulatriene-8-one, a sesquiterpenoid) from Zingiber aromaticum were compared with those of curcumin from Curcuma longa in an in vitro MTT tetrazolium salt assay using HT-29, CaCo-2, and MCF-7 cancer cells and in an azoxymethane (AOM)-induced animal model of colon cancer using aberrant crypt foci (ACFs) as a preneoplastic marker. The IC50 of zerumbone was approximately 10 mM and that of curcumin was 25 mM. Cell cycle arrest in HT-29 cells was observed at G0/G1 for 10 and 12.5 mM and G2/M for 25 mM after 24 h at concentrations of 10-25 mM of zerumbone, and a concentration-dependent increase in apoptosis (2-6% of viable cells) was observed after 48 h using the same concentration range. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed extracts in an AIN diet prepared from the equivalent of 4% by weight of dried rhizomes of Z. aromaticum and C. longa. ACFs were induced by two doses (15 mg/kg body weight) subcutaneously of AOM 1 wk apart, the rats were killed 10 wk later, and the ACFs were assessed in the colon. Total ACFs were significantly reduced by Z. aromaticum extract (down 21%, P < 0.05) relative to control, the effect being most evident with large ACFs (>3 aberrant crypts per focus). Similar reductions were observed with 4% C. longa extract in the diet (down 24%, P < 0.01) and with 2,000 ppm curcumin, the effect being particularly evident with large ACFs. The concentration of zerumbone in the Z. aromaticum extract diet was assayed at 300 ppm and of curcumin in the C. longa extract diet was also 300 ppm, i.e., the extract of C. longa was as effective at one-seventh the concentration of curcumin as the positive control. Zerumbone is effective as an anticancer agent, possibly by its apoptosis-inducing and antiproliferative influences. This latter possibility is currently being investigated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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