Alternative remedies for cancer treatment is a multi-billion dollar industry. In particular, breast cancer (BC) patients use alternative and natural remedies more frequently than patients with other malignancies. Propolis is an example of a honeybee-produced naturopathic formulation, contents of which differ by geographic location. It is readily available, affordable, and in use safely since ancient times globally. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is a major active component in propolis and is thought to be responsible for its varied properties, including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer. CAPE is effective in many models of human cancer, including BC as we have previously shown. CAPE affects genes associated with tumor cell growth and survival, angiogenesis and chemoresistance. We demonstrate that these are related in part to CAPE’s role as a histone deacetylase inhibitor, a class of drugs designated as epigenetic agents that modulate the activities of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. CAPE and propolis, cause an accumulation of acetylated histone proteins in MCF-7 (ER+) and MDA-MB-231 (ER-/PR-/Her2-) cells with associated decreases in ER and PR in MCF-7 cells, and upregulation of ER and decrease in EGFR in MDA-231 cells. In addition, these products reduced activated phosphorylated Her2 protein in SKBR3 (Her2 +) cells. Interestingly, propolis, when normalized for CAPE content, appears to be more potent than CAPE alone similarly to the greater effects of complete foods than isolated components. These data provide a potential mechanistic basis for one of the oldest naturopathic agents used in medicine and cancer treatment.
Breast cancer; CAPE; HDAC inhibitor; Propolis
PMID: 24466386 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3898618
* THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.