White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer cell proliferation

J Nutr. 2001 Dec;131(12):3288-93. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.12.3288.


Estrogen is a major factor in the development of breast cancer. In situ estrogen production by aromatase/estrogen synthetase in breast cancer plays a dominant role in tumor proliferation. Because natural compounds such as flavones and isoflavones have been shown to be inhibitors of aromatase, it is thought that vegetables that contain these phytochemicals can inhibit aromatase activity and suppress breast cancer cell proliferation. Heat-stable extracts were prepared from vegetables and screened for their ability to inhibit aromatase activity in a human placental microsome assay. The white button mushroom (species Agaricus bisporus) suppressed aromatase activity dose dependently. Enzyme kinetics demonstrated mixed inhibition, suggesting the presence of multiple inhibitors or more than one inhibitory mechanism. "In cell" aromatase activity and cell proliferation were measured using MCF-7aro, an aromatase-transfected breast cancer cell line. Phytochemicals in the mushroom aqueous extract inhibited aromatase activity and proliferation of MCF-7aro cells. These results suggest that diets high in mushrooms may modulate the aromatase activity and function in chemoprevention in postmenopausal women by reducing the in situ production of estrogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agaricus / chemistry*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Aromatase / genetics
  • Aromatase Inhibitors*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Testosterone
  • Aromatase