Extract May Improve Treatment of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer


A natural compound found in broccoli, celery, parsley, and thyme, may reduce the risk of metastasis in triple-negative breast cancer.

A natural compound found in broccoli, celery, parsley, and thyme, may reduce the risk of metastasis in triple-negative breast cancer, according to a University of Missouri press release.

Triple-negative breast cancers account for 15% to 20% of all breast tumors, and although it is treatable, the disease is often aggressive in nature with a poor prognosis.

“Triple-negative breast cancers are cancer cells that lack 3 receptors targeted by current chemotherapy regimens,” said investigator Salman Hyder, in the release. “Because of this lack of receptors, common cancer drugs can’t ‘find’ the cells, and doctors must treat the cancer with extremely aggressive and highly toxic treatment strategies. Women with this type of breast cancer also frequently develop metastatic lesions that originate from drug-resistant cells. Therefore, safer therapeutic therapies that are more effective are being sought for this deadly type of cancer in women.”

In the study, investigators used mouse models with human triple-negative breast cancer cells to test the naturally occurring, non-toxic plant compound luteolin. Luteolin has demonstrated efficacy against several types of cancer, according to the release.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy, showed that luteolin inhibited the metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer in the lungs of mice.

“Mice exposed to human triple-negative breast cancer cells experienced significantly reduce metastatic growth in their lung after being treated with luteolin,” Hyder said. “In almost every case, the mice also saw no weight loss, which means luteolin has no toxic effects; this plant compound is both safe and effective.”

To further test the efficacy of luteolin, the investigators tested the cells in dishes treated with luteolin. The results of the experiment showed that the plant compound was able to inhibit cell migration.

“Triple-negative breast cancer cells are highly mobile in the body, which helps them metastasize to other organs throughout the body,” Hyder said. “We found that luteolin inhibits the migration and also can kill cancer cells. We contend that these studies support further investigation of luteolin as an anti-metastatic agent that could be used to combat triple-negative breast cancer and its metastasis.” If additional studies of luteolin are successful over the next few years, University of Missouri officials will submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application, according to the release.


Cook MT, Liang Y, Besch-Williford C, Hyder SM. Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells. Breast Cancer. 2016; 9:9-19.

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