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T h e A m e r i c a n s o c i e t y f o r C e l l B i o l o g y
News from
The American Society
for Cell Biology
50th Annual Meeting
Philadelphia, PA
December 11–15, 2010
The science of pomegranate
juice in a swirl
EMBARGOED
FOR RELEASE
10:00 am, U.S. Eastern Time
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Contact
Manuela Martins-Green
University of California, Riverside
Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Spieth Hall
Riverside, CA 92521
909-787-2585
Lei Wang
University of California, Riverside
2230 Biological Science Bldg.
Riverside, CA 92521
951-823-9782
Authors present
Sunday, December 12, 2010
11:30 am–1:00 pm
Session: Cancer Therapeutics II
Exhibit Halls A/B/C
Program: 653
Board: B1037
Specific Pomegranate Juice
Components as Potential
Inhibitors of Prostate Cancer
Metastasis
L. Wang, J. Ho, A. Alcon, M.M.
Martins-Green
Department of Cell Biology
and Neuroscience, University
of California, Riverside,
Riverside, CA
Compounds that inhibit prostate
cancer cell metastasis identified
in pomegranate juice
E
very glass of pomegranate juice
(PJ) now comes with a free serv-
ing of controversy. A 2006 study at
the University of California, Los Angeles
(UCLA) of prostate cancer patients who
drank a daily 8-ounce glass of PJ splashed
across the headlines with its report that
measurements of prostate-specific an-
tigen (PSA) levels indicated a dramatic
slowing of cancer progression. The shout-
ing hasn’t stopped since. Whether PSA
levels are an accurate marker for prostate
cancer progression is a controversy all
its own. Moreover, the UCLA researchers
could only speculate about the potential
biological mechanism behind PJ’s appar-
ent impact in the study. In September, the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued
PomWonderful, the natural foods com-
pany that supplied the PJ for the UCLA
study and has supported an array of other
pomegranate research. The FTC charged
the company with making false and mis-
leading claims about PJ’s healthful effects,
including its anti–prostate cancer powers.
PomWonderful says it will fight the FTC
allegations vigorously: “Pom to FTC: Stop
persecuting pomegranates!”
Meantime, in the relative calm of
a cell biology laboratory, researchers at
the University of California, Riverside
(UCR), led by Manuela Martins-Green,
have been trying to find out how PJ could
work to give the benefit that the UCLA
study suggested. In earlier studies, the
Martins-Green lab at UCR used a stan-
dardized concentration of PJ on two types
of laboratory-cultured prostate cancer
cells that were resistant to the hormone
testosterone, an indicator of strong
metastatic potential. The UCR research-
ers noted not only increased cell death
among the PJ-treated tumor cells but also
increased cell adhesion and decreased
cell migration in those that didn’t die.
Now the Martins-Green lab takes the
PJ story a step further by analyzing the
juice of the
Punica granatum,
looking for
active ingredients that have a molecular
impact on metastatic prostate cancer
cells. Martins-Green, graduate student Lei
Wang, and undergraduate student Jeffrey
Ho have identified specific components in
PJ that affect cell adhesion and migration:
phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids,
flavones, and conjugated fatty acids.
Two of these components in PJ are
particularly powerful in their ability to in-
hibit the migration of the cancer cells and
slow their chemotaxis toward a chemical
signal (stromal cell–derived growth fac-
tor) that has been shown to be important
in prostate cancer metastasis to the bone.
Further testing of these components in an
in vivo model for prostate cancer should
allow the Martins-Green lab to determine
dose-dependent effects, side effects, and
the like, as well as to develop ways for
more effective treatment of metastatic
prostate cancer than simply drinking the
juice. “This is particularly exciting be-
cause we can now modify these naturally
occurring components of the juice to
improve their functions and make them
more effective in preventing prostate
cancer metastasis,” says Martins-Green.
“Because the genes and proteins involved
in movement of prostate cancer cells are
essentially the same as those involved in
movement of other types of cancer cells,
the same modified components of the
juice could have a much broader impact
in cancer treatment,” she says.
The virtues of Punica granatum have been extolled
since the biblical “Song of Solomon” but now lab
researchers are analyzing the active ingredients in
pomegranate juice that might have a molecular impact
on prostate cancer cells.
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