Modulation of estrogen and epidermal growth factor receptors by rosemary extract in breast cancer cells

Electrophoresis. 2014 Jun;35(11):1719-27. doi: 10.1002/elps.201400011. Epub 2014 Mar 20.


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality among females worldwide, and therefore the development of new therapeutic approaches is still needed. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) extract possesses antitumor properties against tumor cells from several organs, including breast. However, in order to apply it as a complementary therapeutic agent in breast cancer, more information is needed regarding the sensitivity of the different breast tumor subtypes and its effect in combination with the currently used chemotherapy. Here, we analyzed the antitumor activities of a supercritical fluid rosemary extract (SFRE) in different breast cancer cells, and used a genomic approach to explore its effect on the modulation of ER-α and HER2 signaling pathways, the most important mitogen pathways related to breast cancer progression. We found that SFRE exerts antitumor activity against breast cancer cells from different tumor subtypes and the downregulation of ER-α and HER2 receptors by SFRE might be involved in its antitumor effect against estrogen-dependent (ER+) and HER2 overexpressing (HER2+) breast cancer subtypes. Moreover, SFRE significantly enhanced the effect of breast cancer chemotherapy (tamoxifen, trastuzumab, and paclitaxel). Overall, our results support the potential utility of SFRE as a complementary approach in breast cancer therapy.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor alpha; Human epidermal growth factor receptor-2; Paclitaxel; Rosemary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Breast / drug effects
  • Breast / metabolism
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • ErbB Receptors