Effect of Paullinia cupana on MCF-7 breast cancer cell response to chemotherapeutic drugs

Mol Clin Oncol. 2015 Jan;3(1):37-43. doi: 10.3892/mco.2014.438. Epub 2014 Oct 8.


Previous studies suggested that certain plants, such as guarana (Paullinia cupana), exert a protective effect against cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. However, guarana possesses bioactive molecules, such as caffeine and catechin, which may affect the pharmacological properties of antitumor drugs. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of guarana on breast cancer cell response to 7 chemotherapeutic agents currently used in the treatment of breast cancer. To perform this study, MCF-7 breast cancer cells were cultured under controlled conditions and exposed to 1, 5 and 10 µg/ml guarana concentrations, with and without chemotherapeutics (gemcitabine, vinorelbine, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil, paclitaxel, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide). The effect of these treatments on MCF-7 cell viability and proliferation was spectrophotometrically analyzed with the MTT assay. The main results demonstrated an antiproliferative effect of guarana at concentrations of 5 and 10 µg/ml and a significant effect on chemotherapeutic drug action. In general, guarana improved the antiproliferative effect of chemotherapeutic agents, causing a decrease of >40% in cell growth after 72 h of exposure. The results suggested an interaction of guarana with the chemotherapeutic drugs, which requires confirmation by in vivo complementary studies.

Keywords: antitumor; breast cancer; chemotherapy; fatigue; guarana.