JUL 20, 2020 5:38 PM PDT

Fighting Cancer with Black Pepper

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

In the never-ending search for the next treatment or cure, many researchers turn towards nature. The study of black pepper is one such result of this. Several studies have revealed that the molecule piperine, a flavor compound in black pepper, actually has anti-cancer effects. It makes you wonder if you should include it in more recipes, huh?

This anti-cancer action still needs significant investigation, as many studies only show surface-level observations such as increased expression in anti-tumor genes or decreases in pro-tumor genes. A group from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil wanted to understand how piperine might affect colorectal cancer cells. Previous work had shown it suppressed cancer growth, but no studies have elucidated how it did so.

They began with the hypothesis that piperine might affect the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. This pathway functions as an on/off switch regulating several cellular development pathways. In some cancers, this pathway is stuck in the “on” position and promotes tumor development, while inhibitors designed to turn the pathway off can prevent tumor development.

The study found that in colorectal cell lines, piperine significantly inhibited Wnt/β-catenin signaling. They just needed to narrow down what stage it interacted with. Markers for early events in the pathway saw no change, but β-catenin (the protein responsible for the intracellular signal) was not active in piperine treated cell lines. Piperine had somehow stopped β-catenin’s activation.

Further investigation found that piperine could significantly impair the growth of colorectal cancer cells, but it barely affected healthy colorectal cells. They made the same observations when cell viability (whether a cell dies or not) and cellular migration (a key player in aggressive cancers) were tested. Testing on different Wnt/β-catenin cell lines confirmed that these changes Wnt/β-catenin signaling dependent.

The study could not elucidate the exact mechanism behind piperine’s anti-cancer activities, but it did isolate it to a particular event in the cell. Piperine somehow prevents the activation of β-catenin and stops the expression of pro-tumor genes. It could even do so while not affecting healthy cells.  

The team concludes, “Piperine displays anti-cancer effects in different cancer cell lines, probably by interfering with Wnt/β-catenin signaling, among others. Thus, a new path is opened for understanding the molecular mechanisms by which alkaloids suppress tumor progression.” While it doesn’t supply the most conclusive answers, it definitely supports its anti-cancer effects. I know that I, for one, will be adding pepper into more things from now on.

Sources: Nature Scientific Reports, NootropicsExpert

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
You May Also Like
NOV 03, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
One Eight Cancer Patients Also Carry Inherited Genetic Mutations
NOV 03, 2020
One Eight Cancer Patients Also Carry Inherited Genetic Mutations
Genetic sequencing technologies have rapidly advanced, reducing the time required to sequence the entire human genome fr ...
NOV 24, 2020
Cancer
Using Restfulness as a Metric for Measuring Sleep Quality and Cardiovascular Risk
NOV 24, 2020
Using Restfulness as a Metric for Measuring Sleep Quality and Cardiovascular Risk
Did you know sleeping is great? Apparently, getting a full eight hours every night can make you look fabulous and solve ...
DEC 15, 2020
Cancer
New combination therapy may help patients with treatment resistance
DEC 15, 2020
New combination therapy may help patients with treatment resistance
New research from scientists at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center showcases a novel combination therapy that ...
DEC 27, 2020
Immunology
A Fatty Diet can be Fuel for Tumor Growth!
DEC 27, 2020
A Fatty Diet can be Fuel for Tumor Growth!
Obesity is a significant problem in our societies with increasing the risk for many diseases, including cancer. Can ...
JAN 12, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Portable Sequencer Ensures All the Cancer Cells Are Gone
JAN 12, 2021
Portable Sequencer Ensures All the Cancer Cells Are Gone
Surgeons remove a tumor from the abdominal cavity of a patient. But how can they be certain that all the cancer cells we ...
JAN 15, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Rare Quadruple Helix DNA Found in Live Human Cells
JAN 15, 2021
Rare Quadruple Helix DNA Found in Live Human Cells
Many people picture the classic double-stranded helix when picturing a molecule of DNA, but DNA is also capable of formi ...
Loading Comments...