The Impact Of Polyphenols In Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a study carried out by Dr Javier Menendez and colleagues from the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain to investigated the effects of extra virgin olive on breast cancer cells grown in laboratory cultures, it was shown that the substances in extra virgin olive oil work in a similar way to the drug Herceptin by reducing the concentration of HER2 protein that helps HER2-positive breast cancer to grow.
Using a method called solid phase extraction, researchers extracted the polyphenols from commercially available extra virgin olive oil. These were then added to the growth medium for HER2-positive and HER2-negative breast cancers to see what effect they had on the tumour cells.
They found that the polyphenols from the extra virgin olive oil reduced the levels of HER2 protein and also increased tumour cell death. HER2 is a protein found on the surface of some cancer cells. This protein can bind to another molecule (known as human epidermal growth factor), which then encourages the growth and division of the tumour cells. Not all have the HER2 protein on their surface; it is estimated that one in five women with breast cancer will have HER2 receptors.
Several laboratory tests were then carried out to determine how fast the tumour cells were growing, their metabolic activity, whether the phenol caused cell death, whether the phenol had an effect on levels of HER2 protein and whether or not HER2 protein was activated in the presence of the phenol. The results from these tests were compared with those from tests performed on breast cancer cells that were not cultured with the phenols.
The Study Findings
This study found that phenols extracted from extra virgin olive oil have an effect on HER2-positive breast cancer cells grown in culture in the laboratory. The researchers found that some single phenolic compounds (including hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol and others) and all the polyphenols (several phenols joined together) from extra virgin olive oil induced “strong tumouricidal effects” in breast cancer cells that had HER2 protein on their surface. The phenols also reduced the levels of HER2 protein and its activation.
The researchers concluded that the phenols in extra virgin olive oil have the ability to cause degradation of the HER2 protein on breast cancer cells. This may mean they can be used as a basis for the design of new HER2-targeting agents.