Pomegranate fruit extract inhibits prosurvival pathways in human A549 lung carcinoma cells and tumor growth in athymic nude mice

Carcinogenesis. 2007 Jan;28(1):163-73. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgl145. Epub 2006 Aug 18.


Developing novel mechanism-based chemopreventive approaches for lung cancer through the use of dietary substances which humans can accept has become an important goal. In the present study, employing normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) and human lung carcinoma A549 cells, we first compared the growth inhibitory effects of pomegranate fruit extract (PFE). Treatment of PFE (50-150 microg/ml) for 72 h was found to result in a decrease in the viability of A549 cells but had only minimal effects on NHBE cells as assessed by the MTT and Trypan blue assays. PFE treatment of A549 cells also resulted in dose-dependent arrest of cells in G0-G1 phase of the cell cycle (as assessed by DNA cell cycle analysis). We further found that PFE treatment also resulted in (i) induction of WAF1/p21 and KIP1/p27, (ii) decrease in the protein expressions of cyclins D1, D2 and E, and (iii) decrease in cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) 2, cdk4 and cdk6 expression. The treatment of cells with PFE inhibited (i) phosphorylation of MAPK proteins, (ii) inhibition of PI3K, (iii) phosphorylation of Akt at Thr308, (iv) NF-kappaB and IKKalpha, (v) degradation and phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha, and (vi) Ki-67 and PCNA. We also found that PFE treatment to A549 cells resulted in inhibition of NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity. Oral administration of PFE (0.1 and 0.2%, wt/vol) to athymic nude mice implanted with A549 cells resulted in a significant inhibition in tumor growth. Our results provide a suggestion that PFE can be a useful chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic agent against human lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / drug effects
  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / metabolism
  • Cyclins / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Lythraceae / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • CDKN1B protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Plant Extracts
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases