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Pulmonary metastasis of breast cancer prevented by a component found in safflower


In this study, researchers from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University investigated the effects of safflower yellow (SY), the active component of the herbaceous plant Carthamus tinctorius, on the pulmonary metastasis of breast cancer and its mechanism of action. The results of their study were published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.

  • C. tinctorius or safflower is a traditional Chinese medicine that activates blood circulation and dissipates blood stasis.
  • It is extensively used as an antitumor treatment in a clinical setting either alone or as part of a formulation. However, empirical evidence and a better understanding of the possible mechanisms involved in its biological activities are lacking.
  • The researchers used EGF-meditated time- and dose-dependent cell response profiles to screen for the activity of SY in vitro.
  • They established an orthotopic lung metastasis animal model via intravenous injection of breast cancer cells to evaluate the antimetastatic role of SY in vivo.
  • The researchers reported that SY dose-dependently inhibited EGF-mediated time- and dose-dependent cell response by inhibiting cytoskeletal rearrangement.
  • They also found that SY significantly inhibited the migration of breast cancer cells in vitro and pulmonary metastasis of breast cancer cells in vivo.
  • EGF stimulation of breast cancer cells (MBA-MD-231) treated with SY resulted in a decrease in the expression of MMP-9 and p-Src proteins and the formation of invadopodia.
  • The researchers reported a similar event in the lung metastatic foci. They also found a reduction in circulating tumor cells retained in lung capillaries.
  • These results suggested that the antimetastatic effect of SY is due to its inhibition of invadopodia formation, which occurs mainly through Src-dependent cytoskeleton rearrangement.

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that SY should be considered as a potential novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of breast cancer.

Journal Reference:

Fu H, Wu R, Li Y, Zhang L, Tang X, Tu J, Zhou W, Wang J, Shou Q. SAFFLOWER YELLOW PREVENTS PULMONARY METASTASIS OF BREAST CANCER BY INHIBITING TUMOR CELL INVADOPODIA. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2016;44(07):1491–1506. DOI: 10.1142/s0192415x1650083x



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