Ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract inhibits angiogenesis in prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo

Int J Oncol. 2008 Feb;32(2):475-80.


Angiogenesis is critical to tumor growth and is stimulated by tissue hypoxia due to poor oxygen delivery. In turn, cellular hypoxia leads to angiogenesis via the induction of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) at a cellular level. Pomegranate juice and extracts, which are rich sources of ellagitannins, have been shown to have chemopreventive potential against prostate cancer, but there have been no studies on the effects of an ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract on angiogenesis. Human prostate cancer cells (LNCaP) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were incubated with a pomegranate extract standardized to ellagitannin content (POMx), under normoxic and hypoxic conditions in vitro. Human prostate cancer cells (LAPC4) were injected subcutaneously into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice and the effects of oral administration of POMx on tumor growth, microvessel density, and HIF-1alpha and VEGF expression were determined after 4 weeks of treatment. POMx inhibited the proliferation of LNCaP and HUVEC cells significantly under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. HIF-1alpha and VEGF protein levels were also reduced by POMx under hypoxic conditions. POMx decreased prostate cancer xenograft size, tumor vessel density, VEGF peptide levels and HIF-1alpha expression after 4 weeks of treatment in SCID mice. These results demonstrate that an ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract can inhibit tumor-associated angiogenesis as one of several potential mechanisms for slowing the growth of prostate cancer in chemopreventive applications. Further studies in humans are needed to confirm that angiogenesis can be inhibited by an ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract administered orally as a dietary supplement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolyzable Tannins / metabolism*
  • Hypoxia
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lythraceae / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Hydrolyzable Tannins
  • Plant Extracts
  • ellagitannin