Inhibitory Effects of Culinary Herbs and Spices on the Growth of HCA-7 Colorectal Cancer Cells and Their COX-2 Expression

Nutrients. 2017 Sep 21;9(10):1051. doi: 10.3390/nu9101051.


It is unclear if the anti-inflammatory properties of culinary herbs and spices (CHS) are linked to their ability to inhibit Colorectal cancer cell (CRC) growth. Furthermore, their therapeutic potential with regards to CRC is unknown. The aim of this study was to establish if the inhibition of HCA-7 CRC cell growth by a selection of culinary herbs and spices (CHS) is linked to the inhibition of the cells' cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2 )expression, and to investigate their therapeutic potential. CHS inhibited the growth of Human colon adenocarcinoma-7 (HCA-7) cells; the order of potency was turmeric, bay leaf, ginger, sage, and rosemary; their combinations had a synergistic or additive effect on cell growth inhibition. CHS also inhibited COX-2 expression and activity; this action was comparable to that of the specific COX-2 inhibitor Celecoxib. Coincident with COX-2 inhibition was the accumulation of cells in the sub G1 phase of the HCA-7's cell cycle and, using bay leaf and turmeric, the cleavage of caspase 3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). This latter effect showed that the effect of these CHS on growth arrest was irreversible, and was comparable to that of the caspase activator Etoposide. This study provides evidence of a link between the inhibition of HCA-7 growth, and its COX-2 expression, by CHS, and their therapeutic potential.

Keywords: COX-2; cancer; colorectal; herbs; spices.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / enzymology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / isolation & purification
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Etoposide / pharmacology
  • G1 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Plants, Medicinal* / chemistry
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Spices*
  • Time Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Etoposide
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Caspase 3
  • Dinoprostone