A new study suggests that a flavonoid found in parsley, celery, and chamomile tea may help improve the odds of surviving malignant mesothelioma.
Scientists in Italy have just released some promising findings from tests of the compound apigenin on mesothelioma cells in the lab and in live mice.
What is Apigenin?
Apigenin is a plant pigment that is part of a larger group of chemicals called polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are one of the largest nutrient families with over 6,000 having been identified.
Apigenin has been the focus of a number of laboratory experiments and animal studies, although its effects on human health are still relatively unknown. The new Italian study is the first to examine apigenin’s impact on malignant mesothelioma.
Testing Apigenin in Mesothelioma Cells
Researchers with the University of Rome first applied apigenin to both human and mouse mesothelioma cells in the lab to measure their impact on various cellular functions.
“API [apigenin] inhibited in vitro malignant mesothelioma cells survival, increased reactive oxygen species intracellular production and induced DNA damage,” reads the report, authored by Laura Masuelli and colleagues.
Apigenin also appeared to accelerate apoptosis, the process of natural cell death, and induced a range of chemical reactions among the treated mesothelioma cells.
Mice with Mesothelioma Respond to Treatment
The second phase of the University of Rome study was to measure apigenin’s impact on mesothelioma tumors in live mice.
The mice in the experiment had been implanted with human mesothelioma cells and had begun to accumulate an abnormal amount of fluid in their abdomens as a result. But when the researchers gave them abdominal injections of apigenin, their situations began to improved.
“Intraperitoneal administration of API increased the median survival of C57BL/6 mice intraperitoneally transplanted with #40a cells and reduced the risk of tumor growth,” reports Dr. Masuelli. “Our findings may have important implications for the design of malignant mesothelioma treatment using API.”
At present, there is no cure for malignant mesothelioma and few viable treatment options. Even the gold standard treatments including chemotherapy and surgery usually only extend survival by a few months.
Apigenin is one of several plant compounds that have been studied for their potential in new mesothelioma treatments. Some others include the polyphenol resveratrol in red wine, curcumin found in the spice turmeric, and sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables.
Masuelli, L, et al, “In Vitro and In Vivo Anti-tumoral Effects of the Flavonoid Apigenin in Malignant Mesothelioma”, June 2017 Frontiers in Pharmacology, ePub