Mechanisms of action and antiproliferative properties of Brassica oleracea juice in human breast cancer cell lines

J Nutr. 2005 Jun;135(6):1503-9. doi: 10.1093/jn/135.6.1503.


Cruciferous vegetables are an important source of compounds that may be useful for chemoprevention. In this study, we evaluated the antiproliferative activity of juice obtained from leaves of several varieties of Brassica oleracea on both estrogen receptor (ER)-positive (ER+; MCF-7 and BT474) and ER-negative (ER-; MDA-MB-231 and BT20) human breast cancer cell lines. The effect of juice on cell proliferation was evaluated on DNA synthesis and on cell cycle-related proteins. Juice markedly reduced DNA synthesis, evaluated by [3H]thymidine incorporation, starting from low concentrations (final concentration 5-15 mL/L), and this activity was independent of ER. All cauliflower varieties tested suppressed cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Cell growth inhibition was accompanied by significant cell death at the higher juice concentrations, although no evidence of apoptosis was found. Interestingly, the juice displayed a preferential activity against breast cancer cells compared with other mammalian cell lines investigated (ECV304, VERO, Hep2, 3T3, and MCF-10A) (P < 0.01). At the molecular level, the inhibition of proliferation was associated with significantly reduced CDK6 expression and an increased level of p27 in ER+ cells but not in ER- cells, whereas a common feature in all cell lines was significantly decreased retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation. These results suggest that the edible part of Brassica oleracea contains substances that can markedly inhibit the growth of both ER+ and ER- human breast cancer cells, although through different mechanisms. These results suggest that the widely available cruciferous vegetables are potential chemopreventive agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Brassica / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cytotoxins / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytotoxins
  • Plant Extracts