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Carcinogenesis. 2012 Jan;33(1):226-32. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgr247. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

Cell signaling pathways associated with a reduction in mammary cancer burden by dietary common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.).

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Department of Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.


Emerging evidence indicates that common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is associated with reduced cancer risk in human populations and rodent carcinogenesis models. This study sought to identify cancer-associated molecular targets that mediate the effects of bean on cancer burden in a chemically induced rat model for breast cancer. Initial experiments were conducted using a high dietary concentration of bean (60% wt/wt) where carcinoma burden in bean-fed rats was reduced 62.2% (P < 0.001) and histological and western blot analyses revealed that the dominant cellular process associated with reduced burden was induction of apoptosis. Further analysis of mammary carcinomas revealed changes in the phosphorylation states of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) substrates (4E-binding protein 1 and p70S6 kinase) and mTOR regulators adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase and protein kinase B (Akt) (P < 0.001). Effects on mTOR signaling in carcinomas were also found at lower dietary concentrations of bean (7.5-30% wt/wt). Liquid chromatography-time of flight-mass spectrometry analysis of plasma provided evidence of altered lipid metabolism consistent with reduced mTOR network activity in the liver (P < 0.001). Plasma concentrations of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 were reduced by 36.3 and 38.9%, respectively, (P < 0.001), identifying a link to Akt regulation. Plasma C-reactive protein, a prognostic marker for long-term survival in breast cancer patients, was reduced by 23% (P < 0.001) in bean-fed rats. Identification of a role for the mTOR signaling network in the reduction of cancer burden by dietary bean is highly relevant given that this pathway is deregulated in the majority of human breast cancers.

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