Research Shows the Role of Polyphenols in Inhibiting Cancer Metastasis

Spanish scientists investigated the role of oleocanthal and oleacein in modulating angiogenesis, which is directly related to the progression of different types of tumors.
AI-generated image
By Simon Roots
Oct. 26, 2023 13:36 UTC

Scientists from the Biomedical Research Institute of Málaga and the Nanomedicine Platform have pub­lished a study explor­ing the role of oleo­can­thal and olea­cein in mod­u­lat­ing angio­gen­e­sis, the for­ma­tion of new blood ves­sels, which is directly related to the pro­gres­sion of dif­fer­ent types of tumors and the metas­ta­sis of can­cer.

Oleocanthal and olea­cein, sec­oiri­doid-related phe­no­lic com­pounds, are found in extra vir­gin olive oil. Both com­pounds are known for their antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties and have been the sub­ject of much sci­en­tific inves­ti­ga­tion.


Secoiridoids are a class of nat­ural prod­ucts that are derived from monoter­penes. They are sec­ondary metabo­lites com­monly found in plants, espe­cially in the Oleaceae fam­ily, which includes the olive tree. These com­pounds often pos­sess a wide range of bio­log­i­cal activ­i­ties, includ­ing anti-inflam­ma­tory, antiox­i­dant, and anti­cancer prop­er­ties.

Oleuropein and ligstro­side, for exam­ple, are sec­oiri­doids found in olive leaves and olive oil. These com­pounds are believed to con­tribute to the health ben­e­fits of the Mediterranean diet, which includes reg­u­lar con­sump­tion of olive oil. They play a role in the car­dio­pro­tec­tive and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties of olive oil.

However, prior research into their effects on angio­gen­e­sis was lim­ited. The new study seeks to address this gap by explor­ing the anti-angio­genic prop­er­ties of the com­pounds, both in vitro and in vivo.

Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood ves­sels from exist­ing ones, is cru­cial for solid tumor growth and sur­vival.

See Also:Health News

Tumor angio­gen­e­sis involves the devel­op­ment of blood ves­sels into the can­cer­ous mass to sup­ply nutri­ents and oxy­gen, sup­port­ing tumor growth and metas­ta­sis. Angiogenesis inhibitors are con­sid­ered a means of com­ple­ment­ing other ther­a­pies and pre­vent­ing malig­nant tumor devel­op­ment.

Anti-angio­genic ther­apy, while not a cure, is effec­tive in destroy­ing tumors because vas­cu­lar sup­ply is essen­tial for their growth.

This approach con­fers cer­tain advan­tages com­pared to non-spe­cific meth­ods, such as chemother­apy and radio­ther­apy, by reduc­ing tox­i­c­ity and drug resis­tance and pro­vid­ing a less toxic, long-term tumor treat­ment.

Angiogenesis involves sev­eral stages, and dis­rupt­ing any one step can thwart the process. Oleacein and oleo­can­thal were found to inhibit endothe­lial cell (the cells that line the inter­nal walls of blood ves­sels) inva­sion, cor­re­lat­ing with a decrease in MMP‑2 activ­ity, an enzyme that degrades the extra­cel­lu­lar matrix, which is cru­cial dur­ing angio­gen­e­sis.

Through a test involv­ing the for­ma­tion of blood ves­sel-like struc­tures on Matrigel, the researchers showed that olea­cein and oleo­can­thal inter­fere with the for­ma­tion of tubu­lar struc­tures by endothe­lial cells in a dose-depen­dent man­ner. Even at low micro­mo­lar doses (non-toxic for such cells), the inhi­bi­tion exceeded 50 per­cent.

Notably, these com­pounds did not affect pre-exist­ing tubu­lar struc­tures, imply­ing that they dis­rupt the for­ma­tion of new ves­sels via angio­gen­e­sis with­out affect­ing estab­lished ones. This fea­ture makes them more suit­able as anti-angio­genic drugs are safer for exist­ing, well-estab­lished blood ves­sels.

The results sug­gest the poten­tial of oleo­can­thal and, par­tic­u­larly, olea­cein as anti-angio­genic agents.

See Also:Oleocanthal, Oleacein Linked to Improved Outcomes in Obesity and Prediabetes

The researchers believe that while fur­ther pre-clin­i­cal and clin­i­cal stud­ies are war­ranted, these find­ings open new avenues for research into devel­op­ing ther­a­peu­tic strate­gies involv­ing these nat­ural com­pounds.

They also believe that the poten­tial ben­e­fits of olea­cein and oleo­can­thal extend beyond can­cer ther­apy, mak­ing them intrigu­ing can­di­dates for address­ing many angio­gen­e­sis-related health con­cerns such as pso­ri­a­sis, arthri­tis, blind­ness and numer­ous rare dis­eases.

Oleacein and oleo­can­thal have been pro­posed as good can­di­dates for angio­pre­ven­tion and as a basis for future stud­ies mod­u­lat­ing angio­gen­e­sis in clin­i­cal inter­ven­tions, as well as func­tional claims of inter­est to the food indus­try for their health ben­e­fits,” said Ana Dacil, the study’s lead author.


She also noted that this is attrac­tive to the indus­try com­mer­cially due to the grow­ing aware­ness of extra vir­gin olive oil as a func­tional food.

This type of study rein­forces the health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil, mak­ing it one of the main foods that sus­tain our Mediterranean diet and help­ing in the pre­ven­tion and devel­op­ment of var­i­ous dis­eases,” said Miguel Angel Medina, a pro­fes­sor of bio­chem­istry and mol­e­c­u­lar biol­ogy at the University of Málaga.

While the con­cen­tra­tion of phe­no­lic com­pounds in extra vir­gin olive oil varies accord­ing to sev­eral fac­tors, such as the region of ori­gin, the olive cul­ti­var, the stage of fruit ripen­ing, and the extrac­tion process, the aver­age daily con­sump­tion of 40 mil­li­liters (approx­i­mately four table­spoons) of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil con­tains a min­i­mum of 10 mil­ligrams of olea­cein and around 25 mil­ligrams of oleo­can­thal.

Oleocanthal, respon­si­ble for many of the spicy and bit­ter notes of high-qual­ity oils, has anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties and anti-car­cino­genic poten­tial, and has been shown to con­fer pro­tec­tion against var­i­ous neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s.

Oleacein, for its part, pos­sesses antiox­ida­tive, hypoten­sive and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties. The polyphe­nol has shown ben­e­fi­cial activ­ity on the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. Studies have sug­gested that the com­pound may even aid the body in repair­ing tis­sues dam­aged by infarc­tion – tis­sue death due to inad­e­quate blood sup­ply.


Related Articles