Theobromine, the primary methylxanthine found in Theobroma cacao, prevents malignant glioblastoma proliferation by negatively regulating phosphodiesterase-4, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin kinase, and nuclear factor-kappa B

Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(3):419-23. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2013.877497. Epub 2014 Feb 18.

Abstract

Theobromine, a caffeine derivative, is the primary methylxanthine produced by Theobroma cacao. We previously showed that methylxanthines, including caffeine and theophylline, have antitumor and antiinflammatory effects, which are in part mediated by their inhibition of phosphodiesterase (PDE). A member of the PDE family, PDE4, is widely expressed in and promotes the growth of glioblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor. The purpose of this study was to determine whether theobromine could exert growth inhibitory effects on U87-MG, a cell line derived from human malignant glioma. We show that theobromine treatment elevates intracellular cAMP levels and increases the activity of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase, whereas it attenuates p44/42 extracellular signal-regulated kinase activity and the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin kinase and nuclear factor-kappa B signal pathways. It also inhibits cell proliferation. These results suggest that foods and beverages containing cocoa bean extracts, including theobromine, might be extremely effective in preventing human glioblastoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4 / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Theobromine / pharmacology*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism

Substances

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • NF-kappa B
  • Cyclic AMP
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • MAPK1 protein, human
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4
  • Theobromine