Potential Mechanisms

Several studies evaluated the potential mechanisms involved in the anticancer activity of pomegranate extract in human breast cancer cells.

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One study demonstrated that the cytotoxicity of pomegranate extract to human breast cancer cells was mediated through several microRNAs involved in the regulation of the AKT and NF-κB cell signaling pathways.9 This finding was also noted in a mouse xenograft model implanted with human breast cancer cells, in which tumor volume and weights were substantially lower with pomegranate extract treatment compared with controls, and the same microRNA species were modulated, thus resulting in decreased protein expression of VEGF, survivin, and NFκB.

Another study evaluated the effect of pomegranate extract on breast cancer stem cells (CSCs), which have the ability to self-renew, initiate tumors, and resist treatment.10 Treatment of breast CSCs with pomegranate extract inhibited the formation of mammospheres, a characteristic that is a hallmark of breast CSCs. Pomegranate extract also inhibited CSC self-renewal, and caused CSCs to become adherent, indicating cell differentiation and cell migration.

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Though there are no human studies of the effects of pomegranate consumption on breast cancer prevention or treatment, multiple in vitro studies suggest that pomegranate extracts, juice, or seed oil have anticancer properties. These anticancer activities may be driven by cell cycle arrest, microRNA modulation, and inhibition of breast cancer CSCs.


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  9. Banerjee N, Talcott S, Safe S, Mertens-Talcott SU. Cytotoxicity of pomegranate polyphenolics in breast cancer cells in vitro and vivo – potential role of miRNA-27a and miRNA-155 in cell survival and inflammation. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012;136:21-34. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2224-0
  10. Nallanthighal S, Elmaliki KM, Reliene R. Pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties in association with inhibition of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Nutr Cancer. 2017;69:1088-98. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2017.1359318