Plant Compound May Slow Mesothelioma Tumors


A natural compound found in red onions, tea and the skins of red apples may play a valuable role in the ongoing fight against malignant mesothelioma. These and other fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains contain quercetin, a flavonoid which has been found to induce apoptosis (cell death) in certain types of cancer cells.

Now, for the first time, researchers in Korea have tested the compound’s effectiveness against pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos-related cancer with no known cure.  Using cultured mesothelioma cells for testing, the scientists treated the samples with 20-80 µM of quercetin.  The compound reportedly reduced the viability of the mesothelioma cells while, at the same time, increasing the rate of apoptosis.

At the heart of quercetin’s apparent anti-mesothelioma effect is its interaction with specificity protein 1 (Sp1). Specificity protein 1 (Sp1) is a human transcription factor involved in gene expression and linked to a variety of crucial cellular functions. The scientists report that quercetin “significantly suppressed its (Sp1’s) expressions at the protein and mRNA (micro RNA) levels.”  As a result, mesothelioma cells exposed to quercetin lost their ability to perform certain functions necessary for life and growth.

The study, published in a recent issue of the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, concludes with a “strong suggestion” that “Sp1 be considered as a novel molecular target of Qu in human malignant pleural mesothelioma.”  A recent breast cancer study on quercetin appears to support the mesothelioma results.  A study at Indiana University on a botanical formula containing quercetin found that the supplement reduced the size of breast cancer tumors and helped prevent metastasis to the lungs in laboratory mice.

Before using quercetin for any cancer or disease first speak to your licensed healthcare provider.


Chae, JI et al, “Role of transcription factor Sp1 in the querceetin-mediated inhibitory effect on human malignant pleural mesothelioma”, July 24, 2012, International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Epub ahead of print.
Jiang, J et al, “BreastDefend prevent breast-to-lung cancer metastases in an orthotopic animal model of triple-negative uman breast cancer”, July 26, 2012, Oncology Reports, Epub ahead of print.

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