Natural extract may improve prognosis of triple negative breast cancer

Natural compounds such as luteolin that are found in thyme, broccoli, celery, and parsley have shown to reduce the risk of metastasis in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) according to a new study [1].

Current status of Triple Negative Breast Cancer

With an increasing number of cases of breast cancer, almost a specific group of   women die every year in the US due to this dreaded disease. TNBC accounts for  15-20% of all breast tumors [2]. It has a poor prognosis and clinical outcome. This variant of breast cancer has a tendency to metastasize to distant sites. TNBC represents a cancer that is difficult to treat and usually escapes adjuvant therapy and surgery and presents as an aggressive type of tumor. [3]

Highly metastatic and mobile tumor

Triple Negative Breast Cancer frequently metastasizes to the lung, liver, and brain. The recurrence is higher with this variant of breast cancer compared to the other types [4].

triple negative breast cancer

Most chemotherapy regimens target three receptors present in cancer cells ER, PR, and HER. However, TNBC cells lack all three of them. Thus, it does not respond to traditional treatments and needs to be treated with more aggressive treatment strategies. Drug resistant cells in this variant frequently develop metastatic lesions requiring safer and more efficient therapies for dealing with this cancer. [1]

Materials and methods

The team of researchers focused on luteolin, a natural non toxic plant flavonoid, found to have shown efficiency against several types of cancers. In this study, researchers wanted to determine the beneficial effects of this natural compound against cancer cells. They grew TNBC cells in mice and treated them with luteolin extracts. [1]

Results showed a significant reduction in the metastatic growth in the lungs after being treated with this compound as they inhibited the growth of these metastatic cells. In addition, the results showed no weight loss which proved that this compound was nontoxic and effective. Thus, these plant flavonoids effectively disrupt the growth and migration of TNBC cells and prevent their metastasis.[1]

Verification of findings of Triple Negative Breast Cancer

To verify the above findings, they also treated cells with luteolin. They observed that these extracts inhibited the migration of cells. The high mobility of Triple Negative breast Cancer cells helps them metastasize to other organs of the body. Thus, these compounds can be used as anti-metastatic agents to combat the spread of cancer cells. These studies show that luteolin holds the potential to be used as a prospective treatment option for stubborn breast cancer tumors.[1]

Luteolin a potential anti metastatic agent

The exact mechanism of how luteolin works still needs to be determined; however, it can be used as an anti-metastatic agent to combat both early and late onset of TNBC as well as for preventing their metastasis.

Credit: Dr. Neha on behalf of Borderless Access

Copyright © 2016 BorderlessAccess


  1. Matthew Cook, Yayun Liang, Cynthia Besch-Williford, Salman Hyder. Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells.
  2. Bauer K.R., Brown M., Cress R.D., Parise C.A., Caggiano V. (2007) Descriptive analysis of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative, progesterone receptor (PR)-negative, and HER2-negative invasive breast cancer, the so-called triple-negative phenotype: a population-based study from the California cancer Registry.
  3. Perou CM, Sørlie T, Eisen MB, et al. Molecular portraits of human breast tumours. Nature.
  4. Dent R, Hanna WM, Trudeau M, Rawlinson E, Sun P, Narod SA. Pattern of metastatic spread in triple-negative breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat.
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