Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC chemo sensitize human breast cancer cells via downregulation of prolactin-mediated JAK2/STAT5A signaling

J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 May 10;217:23-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.02.006. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC (MP) is an ancient Indian medicinal plant traditionally used to treat Parkinson's disease. L-Dopa (LD), precursor of dopamine is abundantly found in the seeds of MP. L-dopa is a natural inhibitor of prolactin (PRL) hormone which is required to maintain lactation in women but it's over production (hyperprolactinemia) plays critical role in advancement of breast cancer.

Aim of the study: We aim to examine the pharmacological effect of LD and MP on this hyperprolactinemia associated breast cancer and related signaling for effective management of the disease. We also investigated chemo-sensitizing effect of MP on hyperprolactinemia-mediated cisplatin resistance.

Materials and methods: Methanolic seed extract of MP were prepared and analysed using HPLC. Effect of LD and MP on the cellular viability of breast cancer cells (T47D, MCF-7, MDA-MB-468 and MDA-MB-231) were evaluated using MTT assay. Further, effect of LD and MP on colony forming potential, DNA damage, cell cycle distribution and apoptosis was determined using agar/agarose method, comet assay and annexin and PI method followed by FACS analysis. To reveal the molecular mechanism involved in the anti-cancer activity of MP, transcriptional and translational level analysis of the key proteins involved in the PRL-mediated signaling, was performed using RT-PCR and western blot analysis. The effect of MP extract on PRL-mediated signaling was validated using dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine. MP extract and cisplatin was given in different combination with appropriate controls to check their effect on chemo-resistivity of breast cancer cells.

Results: Our results demonstrated that MP seed extract has the potential to inhibit cellular proliferation of PRL expressing T47D and MCF-7 breast cancer cells via induction of DNA damage, G1 phase of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis more effectively as compare to LD. Further, MP-mediated anti-cancerous effect was associated with the downregulation of PRL expression, further suppressing the JAK2/STAT5A/Cyclin D1 signaling pathway which has been validated using dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine. Cancer-related hyperprolactinemia confers cisplatin resistance, we observed that MP via PRL inhibition, enhances cisplatin efficacy after their combinatorial treatment in breast cancer cells.

Conclusions: Collectively, our study suggests that MP could be recommended as dietary supplement along with the chemotherapeutic agents against breast cancer.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Chemoresistance; Cisplatin; Hyperprolactinemia; L-Dopa; Mucuna pruriens.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drug Repositioning
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperprolactinemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperprolactinemia / metabolism
  • Hyperprolactinemia / pathology
  • Janus Kinase 2 / metabolism*
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mucuna* / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Prolactin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Prolactin / metabolism
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • CCND1 protein, human
  • Plant Extracts
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • STAT5A protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin D1
  • Levodopa
  • Prolactin
  • JAK2 protein, human
  • Janus Kinase 2
  • Cisplatin