Anticancer property of bromelain with therapeutic potential in malignant peritoneal mesothelioma

Cancer Invest. 2013 May;31(4):241-50. doi: 10.3109/07357907.2013.784777. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


Bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes that is capable of hydrolyzing glycosidic linkages in glycoprotein. Glycoprotein's are ubiquitously distributed throughout the body and serve a variety of physiologic functions. Faulty glycosylation of proteins may lead to cancer. Antitumor properties of bromelain have been demonstrated in both, in vitro and in vivo studies, along with scanty anecdotal human studies. Various mechanistic pathways have been proposed to explain the anticancer properties of bromelain. However, proteolysis by bromelain has been suggested as a main pathway by some researchers. MUC1 is a glycoprotein that provides tumor cells with invasive, metastatic, and chemo-resistant properties. To date, there is no study that examines the effect of bromelain on MUC1. However, the viability of MUC1 expressing pancreatic and breast cancer cells are adversely affected by bromelain. Further, the efficacy of cisplatin and 5-FU are enhanced by adjuvant treatment with bromelain, indicating that the barrier function of MUC1 may be affected. Other studies have also indicated that there is a greater accumulation of 5-FU in the cell compartment on treatment with 5-FU and bromelain. Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPM) expresses MUC1 and initial studies have shown that the viability of MPM cells is adversely affected by exposure to bromelain. Further, bromelain in combination with either 5-FU or cisplatin, the efficacy of the chemotherapeutic drug is enhanced. Hence, current evidence indicates that bromelain may have the potential of being developed into an effective anticancer agent for MPM.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bromelains / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / drug therapy*
  • Mesothelioma / prevention & control*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Bromelains