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Int J Oncol. 2017 Feb;50(2):727-735. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3825. Epub 2016 Dec 29.

The anti-metastatic effects of the phytoestrogen arctigenin on human breast cancer cell lines regardless of the status of ER expression.

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Department of Pharmacology and Intractable Disease Research Center, School of Medicine, Dongguk University, Gyeongju-si 780-350, Republic of Korea.


Arctigenin is a plant lignan extracted from Arctium lappa that has been shown to have estrogenic properties. In spite of the health benefits of phytoestrogens reducing the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and menopausal symptoms, its benefits against the risk of breast cancer have not been fully elucidated. Thus, we investigated the effects of arctigenin on metastasis of breast cancer using both estrogen receptor (ER)-positive MCF-7 and ER-negative MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell lines to see if the effects are dependent on the status of ER expression. In ER-positive MCF-7 cells, arctigenin efficiently inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced cell migration and invasion. The activity of crucial metastatic protease matrix metalloprotease (MMP)-9 in gelatin zymography was also efficiently decreased by arctigenin, as well as its mRNA expression. Notably, arctigenin exhibited similar anti-metastatic effects even in ER-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, suggesting that the anti-metastatic effects of arctigenin were not exerted via the ER. The upstream signaling pathways involved in the regulation of MMP-9 and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) were analyzed using western blotting. The activation of Akt, NF-κB and MAPK (ERK 1/2 and JNK 1/2) was found to be inhibited. Taken together, these data suggest that arctigenin confers anti-metastatic effects by inhibiting MMP-9 and uPA via the Akt, NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways on breast cancer, regardless of ER expression. Therefore, we propose that the intake of arctigenin could be an effective supplement for breast cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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