BREAST CANCER/PUB MED RESEARCH
1. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Dec 15;11:129.
Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and
suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells.
Suhail MM, Wu W, Cao A, Mondalek FG, Fung KM, Shih PT, Fang YT, Woolley C, Young
G, Lin HK.
Al Afia Medical Complex, Salalah, Sultanate of Oman.
BACKGROUND: Gum resins obtained from trees of the Burseraceae family (Boswellia
sp.) are important ingredients in incense and perfumes. Extracts prepared from
Boswellia sp. gum resins have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and
anti-neoplastic effects. Essential oil prepared by distillation of the gum resin
traditionally used for aromatic therapy has also been shown to have tumor
cell-specific anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities. The objective of
this study was to optimize conditions for preparing Boswellea sacra essential oil
with the highest biological activity in inducing tumor cell-specific cytotoxicity
and suppressing aggressive tumor phenotypes in human breast cancer cells.
METHODS: Boswellia sacra essential oil was prepared from Omani Hougari grade
resins through hydrodistillation at 78 or 100 °C for 12 hours. Chemical
compositions were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; and total
boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid
chromatography. Boswellia sacra essential oil-mediated cell viability and death
were studied in established human breast cancer cell lines (T47D, MCF7,
MDA-MB-231) and an immortalized normal human breast cell line (MCF10-2A).
Apoptosis was assayed by genomic DNA fragmentation. Anti-invasive and
anti-multicellular tumor properties were evaluated by cellular network and
spheroid formation models, respectively. Western blot analysis was performed to
study Boswellia sacra essential oil-regulated proteins involved in apoptosis,
signaling pathways, and cell cycle regulation.
RESULTS: More abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic
acids, were present in Boswellia sacra essential oil prepared at 100 °C
hydrodistillation. All three human breast cancer cell lines were sensitive to
essential oil treatment with reduced cell viability and elevated cell death,
whereas the immortalized normal human breast cell line was more resistant to
essential oil treatment. Boswellia sacra essential oil hydrodistilled at 100 °C
was more potent than the essential oil prepared at 78 °C in inducing cancer cell
death, preventing the cellular network formation (MDA-MB-231) cells on Matrigel,
causing the breakdown of multicellular tumor spheroids (T47D cells), and
regulating molecules involved in apoptosis, signal transduction, and cell cycle
CONCLUSIONS: Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells,
Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity.
Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development
of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oil suggest that the
essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. Consistently, the
essential oil represses signaling pathways and cell cycle regulators that have
been proposed as therapeutic targets for breast cancer. Future pre-clinical and
clinical studies are urgently needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of
Boswellia sacra essential oil as a therapeutic agent for treating breast cancer.
PMID: 22171782 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]