Antiproliferative activity of lignans against the breast carcinoma cell lines MCF 7 and BT 20

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2012 Apr;285(4):1145-51. doi: 10.1007/s00404-011-2120-6. Epub 2011 Oct 30.


Purpose: Phytoestrogens are plant-derived, non-steroidal phytochemicals with anticarcinogenic potential. The major structural classes are the isoflavones and lignans. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of the plant-derived lignans secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol with the human lignans enterodiol and enterolactone as well as with 17β estradiol and tamoxifen on cell proliferation of breast carcinoma cell lines.

Methods: The influence of the lignans, 17β estradiol and tamoxifen on cell proliferation was determined using the BrdU test in MCF 7 and BT 20 cell lines.

Results: Enterodiol and enterolactone induced a stronger inhibition of cell growth in MCF 7 and BT 20 cells than secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol. The inhibition effects were less expressed in the BT 20 than in the MCF 7 cells.

Conclusions: The human lignans enterodiol and enterolactone are more biologically active than their precursors secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol, and may be defined as the real drugs in cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Butyrolactone / pharmacology
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Butylene Glycols / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Furans / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lignans / pharmacology*
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Butylene Glycols
  • Estrogens
  • Furans
  • Lignans
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Tamoxifen
  • Estradiol
  • matairesinol
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butane-1,4-diol
  • secoisolariciresinol
  • 4-Butyrolactone
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butyrolactone