Crocin and Metformin suppress metastatic breast cancer progression via VEGF and MMP9 downregulations: in vitro and in vivo studies

Mol Cell Biochem. 2021 Apr 30. doi: 10.1007/s11010-020-04043-8. Online ahead of print.


Metastatic breast cancer remains a serious health concern and numerous investigations recommended medicinal plants as a complementary therapy. Crocin is one of the known anticancer bio-component. Recently, the inhibitory effect of metformin has been studied on the various aspects of cancer. However, no study reported their combination effects on metastatic breast cancer. In the present study, we have assessed their anti-metastatic effects on in vitro and in vivo breast cancer models. Using MTT assay, scratch, and adhesion tests, we have evaluated the cytotoxic, anti-invasive and anti-adhesion effects of crocin and metformin on 4T1 cell line, respectively. Their protective effects and MMP9 as well as VEGF protein expression levels (Western blotting) investigated in the 4T1 murine breast cancer model. Our results showed that both crocin and metformin reduced cell viability, delayed scratch healing and inhibited the cell adhesion, in vitro. While crocin alone restored the mice's weight reduction, crocin, metformin, and their combination significantly reduced the tumor volume size and enhanced animal survival rate in murine breast cancer model, responses that were associated with VEGF and MMP9 down-regulation. These findings suggest that a combination of crocin and metformin could serve as a novel therapeutic approach to enhance the effectiveness of metastatic breast cancer therapy.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Crocin; Metastasis; Metformin; Western Blotting.