Objective: Most women with advanced-stage epithelial ovarian cancer (OVCA) ultimately develop chemoresistant recurrent disease. Therefore, a great need to develop new, more active, and less toxic agents and/or to optimize the efficacy of existing agents exists.
Methods: In this study, we investigated the activity of Avemar, a natural, nontoxic, fermented wheat germ extract (FWGE), against a range of OVCA cell lines, both alone and in combination with cisplatin chemotherapy and delineated the molecular signaling pathways that underlie FWGE activity at a genome-wide level.
Results: We found that FWGE exhibited significant antiproliferative effects against 12 human OVCA cell lines and potentiated cisplatin-induced apoptosis. Pearson correlation of FWGE sensitivity and gene expression data identified 2142 genes (false discovery rate < 0.2) representing 27 biologic pathways (P < 0.05) to be significantly associated with FWGE sensitivity. A parallel analysis of genomic data for 59 human cancer cell lines matched to chemosensitivity data for 2,6-dimethoxy-p-benzoquinone, a proposed active component of FWGE, identified representation of 13 pathways common to both FWGE and 2,6-dimethoxy-p-benzoquinone sensitivity.
Conclusions: Our findings confirm the value of FWGE as a natural product with anticancer properties that may also enhance the activity of existing therapeutic agents. Furthermore, our findings provide substantial insights into the molecular basis of FWGE's effect on human cancer cells.