Assessment of the anti-genotoxic, anti-proliferative, and anti-metastatic potential of crude watercress extract in human colon cancer cells

Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):232-41. doi: 10.1207/s15327914nc5502_15.


Although it is known to be a rich source of the putative anti-cancer chemicals isothiocyanates, watercress has not been extensively studied for its cancer preventing properties. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential chemoprotective effects of crude watercress extract toward three important stages in the carcinogenic process, namely initiation, proliferation, and metastasis (invasion) using established in vitro models. HT29 cells were used to investigate the protective effects of the extract on DNA damage and the cell cycle. The extract was not genotoxic but inhibited DNA damage induced by two of the three genotoxins used, namely hydrogen peroxide and fecal water, indicating the potential to inhibit initiation. It also caused an accumulation of cells in the S phase of the cell cycle indicating (possible) cell cycle delay at this stage. The extract was shown to significantly inhibit invasion of HT115 cells through matrigel. Component analysis was also carried out in an attempt to determine the major phytochemicals present in both watercress leaves and the crude extract. In conclusion, the watercress extract proved to be significantly protective against the three stages of the carcinogenesis process investigated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Nasturtium / chemistry*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Plant Extracts