Structure-function relationships of anthocyanins from various anthocyanin-rich extracts on the inhibition of colon cancer cell growth

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Oct 22;56(20):9391-8. doi: 10.1021/jf8005917. Epub 2008 Sep 19.


Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants and may be chemoprotective. However, the structure-function relationships are not well understood. The objectives of this study were to compare the chemoprotective properties of anthocyanin-rich extracts (AREs) with variable anthocyanin profiles to understand the relationship between anthocyanin chemical structure and chemoprotective activity, measured as inhibition of colon cancer cell proliferation. Additionally, the chemoprotective interaction of anthocyanins and other phenolics was investigated. AREs with different anthocyanin profiles from purple corn, chokeberry, bilberry, purple carrot, grape, radish, and elderberry were tested for growth inhibition (GI 50) using a human colorectal adenocarcinoma (HT29) cell line. All AREs suppressed HT29 cell growth to various degrees as follows: purple corn (GI 50 approximately 14 microg of cy-3-glu equiv/mL) > chokeberry and bilberry > purple carrot and grape > radish and elderberry (GI 50 > 100 microg of cy-3-glu equiv/mL). Anthocyanins played a major role in AREs' chemoprotection and exerted an additive interaction with the other phenolics present. Statistical analyses suggested that anthocyanin chemical structure affected chemoprotection, with nonacylated monoglycosylated anthocyanins having greater inhibitory effect on HT-29 cell proliferation, whereas anthocyanins with pelargonidin, triglycoside, and/or acylation with cinnamic acid exerted the least effect. These findings should be considered for crop selection and the development of anthocyanin-rich functional foods.

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / chemistry*
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts