Colorectal Cancer Coverage from Every Angle
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Role of Flavonoid Metabolites in Colorectal Cancer Prevention

By: Kelly M. Hennessey, PhD
Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2020

Flavonoids have been shown to have chemopreventive effects against colorectal cancer, although the role their metabolites play in prevention is largely unknown. G. Jayarama Bhat, PhD, of the South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, and colleagues found that under certain conditions, 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4,6-THBA), a metabolite produced through flavonoid degradation, can bind to three enzymes required for cancer cell division and inhibit cell proliferation. Their results were published in Cancers.

Flavonoids begin to degrade in the intestines and are further reduced into their metabolites by bacteria in the colon. Thus, it is likely that the cells lining the colon are exposed to high levels of flavonoid metabolites. However, when researchers exposed cancer cells to flavonoid metabolites, the metabolites could not enter the cells and had no effect on cancer cell growth. 

The investigators found that mutations in the SLC5A8 transporter protein prevented metabolites from entering the cells and allowed cancer cells to proliferate. Additionally, 2,4,6-THBA was able to enter cells that expressed the transporter protein but was blocked from cells that did not, demonstrating that 2,4,6-THBA requires the transporter to inhibit cancer growth.

Because 2,4,6-THBA slows the rate of cell division, it may provide an opportunity for immune cells to locate and destroy cancer cells and offer more time to repair damage to cells’ DNA. “We have so many drugs to treat cancer, but almost none to prevent it. Therefore, demonstrating 2,4,6-THBA as a protective agent against colorectal cancer has immense potential health benefits,” concluded Dr. Bhat in a South Dakota State University press release.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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