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Eur J Pharm Sci. 2005 May;25(1):57-65.

Vanillin suppresses in vitro invasion and in vivo metastasis of mouse breast cancer cells.

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Division of Pathogenic Biochemistry, Institute of Natural Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.


Vanillin, a food flavoring agent, has been reported to show anti-mutagenic activity and to inhibit chemical carcinogenesis. In this study, we examined the effect of vanillin on the growth and metastasis of 4T1 mammary adenocarcinoma cells in BALB/c mice. Mice orally administered with vanillin showed significantly reduced numbers of lung metastasized colonies compared to controls. In vitro studies revealed that vanillin, at concentrations that were not cytotoxic, inhibited invasion and migration of cancer cells and inhibited enzymatic activity of MMP-9 secreted by the cancer cells. Vanillin also showed growth inhibitory effect towards cancer cells in vitro. However, vanillic acid, a major metabolic product of vanillin in human and rat, was not active in these in vitro activity assays. Our findings suggest that vanillin has anti-metastatic potential by decreasing invasiveness of cancer cells. Since vanillin is generally regarded as safe, it may be of value in the development of anti-metastatic drugs for cancer treatment.

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