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Int J Cancer. 2005 Dec 20;117(6):889-95.

Antiinvasive effect of xanthohumol, a prenylated chalcone present in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology, Ghent University Hospital, Gent, Belgium.


The female inflorescences of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus L.) are essential during brewing to add taste and flavor to beer and to stabilize beer foam. Xanthohumol, the main prenylated chalcone in hops, was investigated for its antiinvasive activity on human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and T47-D) in vitro. Xanthohumol was able to inhibit the invasion of MCF-7/6 cells at 5 microM in the chick heart invasion assay and of T47-D cells in the collagen invasion assay. Xanthohumol inhibited growth of MCF-7/6 and T47-D cells, but not of chick heart cells. Moreover, it induced apoptosis of these tumor cells as demonstrated by the cleavage of nuclear PARP after 48 hr treatment. To probe the mechanism of the antiinvasive effect of xanthohumol, involvement of the E-cadherin/catenin invasion-suppressor complex was investigated. An aggregation assay demonstrated stimulation of aggregation of MCF-7/6 cells in the presence of 5 microM xanthohumol and this could be completely inhibited by an antibody against E-cadherin. Xanthohumol upregulates the function of the E-cadherin/catenin complex and inhibits invasion in vitro, indicating a possible role as an antiinvasive agent in vivo as well.

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