Pterostilbene and tamoxifen show an additive effect against breast cancer in vitro

Am J Surg. 2010 Nov;200(5):577-80. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2010.07.022.


Background: Tamoxifen is widely used for the treatment of breast cancer. Pterostilbene, a bioavailable stilbenoid found in blueberries, has been found to inhibit breast cancer growth in vitro. It was hypothesized that combining pterostilbene with tamoxifen would produce additive effects on estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

Methods: Two estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cell lines, MCF7 and ZR-751, were pretreated with graduated doses of pterostilbene for 24 hours, followed by 5 μmol/L tamoxifen. MTT proliferation assays and Cell Death Detection ELISA(PLUS) tests evaluated cell viability and apoptosis.

Results: MCF7 cells showed inhibition (10 and 20 μmol/L, P < .001; 30 μmol/L, P < .05) at all time points when combined with tamoxifen. ZR-751 cells showed additive reductions in cell viability (P < .001). Cell Death Detection ELISA(PLUS) indicated increased apoptosis (P < .01).

Conclusions: Pterostilbene shows an additive inhibitory effect on breast cancer cells when combined with tamoxifen, most likely from augmented cancer cell apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pterocarpus
  • Stilbenes / administration & dosage
  • Stilbenes / therapeutic use*
  • Tamoxifen / administration & dosage
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Stilbenes
  • Tamoxifen
  • pterostilbene