The cancer preventive seed peptide lunasin from rye is bioavailable and bioactive

Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(5):680-6. doi: 10.1080/01635580902850082.


Lunasin is a unique 43-amino acid peptide that has been shown to be chemopreventive in mammalian cells and in a skin cancer mouse model against oncogenes and chemical carcinogens. In search for new sources of lunasin and to better understand the role of cereals in cancer prevention, we report here the properties of lunasin from rye. The stability and bioavailability were measured by in vitro digestibility assay using pepsin and pancreatin and feeding rats with lunasin-enriched rye (LER). Inhibition of histone acetyl transferase (HAT) and nuclear localization in mammalian cells were used to measure lunasin bioactivity. Lunasin is present in 15 out of 21 cultivars of rye analyzed. Lunasin present in rye crude protein preparation is stable to pepsin and pancreatin in in vitro digestion. The liver, kidney, and blood of rats fed LER show the presence of lunasin in Western blot. Lunasin extracted from these tissues inhibits the activities of HATs, confirming that the peptide is intact and bioactive. Lunasin purified from rye internalizes in the nuclei of mouse fibroblast cells. We conclude that lunasin in rye is bioavailable and bioactive and that consumption of rye may play an important role of cancer prevention in rye-consuming populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / chemistry
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / metabolism
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Availability
  • Blood / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / blood
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / isolation & purification
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Protein Stability
  • Protein Transport
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Secale / chemistry*
  • Secale / metabolism
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Species Specificity


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Proteins
  • Histone Acetyltransferases