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Planta Med. 2008 Nov;74(14):1701-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1088316. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Effects of Leuzea carthamoides on human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells determined by gene expression profiling and functional assays.

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Institute of Pharmacy, University of Jena, Jena, Germany.


Products derived from roots of Leuzea carthamoides (Maral root) are being promoted as dietary supplements with anti-aging, adaptogenic and anabolic activity, without much scientific evidence. We investigated the effects of a lipophilic Leuzea root extract and the major phytoecdysteroid, 20-hydroxyecdysone, in human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells. Cell proliferation was inhibited by the extract (IC50 = 30 microg/mL) but not by 20-hydroxyecdysone. Genome-wide expression profiling using Affymetrix HG U133 Plus 2.0 microarrays was carried out to analyse effects at the transcriptional level. 241 genes appeared to be differentially expressed after Leuzea treatment, more than after treatment with either 17beta-estradiol or tamoxifen. Transcripts linked to cell cycle regulation and DNA replication were highly over-represented and regulated in an anti-proliferative manner. Genes involved in apoptosis were regulated in a pro-apoptotic manner. Expression levels of several oxidoreductase transcripts were strongly induced, most prominent CYP1A1, known to be regulated via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor pathway. An XRE-dependent reporter gene assay confirmed the AhR-agonistic activity of the Leuzea root extract, whereas 20-hydroxyecdysone was not active. Leuzea extract also inhibited 5alpha-reductase, type II. While the extract significantly modulates cellular activities, the phytoecdysteroids, are most likely not the active principles of L. carthamoides.

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