Monoterpenes inhibit cell growth, cell cycle progression, and cyclin D1 gene expression in human breast cancer cell lines.

Research paper by S S Bardon, K K Picard, P P Martel

Indexed on: 24 Nov '98Published on: 24 Nov '98Published in: Nutrition and cancer


Monoterpenes are found in the essential oils of many commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. These compounds have been shown to exert chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activities in mammary tumor models and represent a new class of breast cancer therapeutic agents. In this study, we investigated the effects of limonene and limonene-related monoterpenes, perillyl alcohol and perillic acid, on cell growth, cell cycle progression, and expression of cyclin D1 cell cycle-regulatory gene in T-47D, MCF-7, and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines. Our results revealed that limonene-related monoterpenes caused a dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. Of the three monoterpenes tested, perillyl alcohol was the most potent and limonene was the least potent inhibitor of cell growth. The enantiomeric composition of limonene and perillyl alcohol did not interfere with their effect on cell growth. Sensitivity of breast cancer cell lines to monoterpenes was in the following order: T-47D > MCF-7 > MDA-MB-231. Growth inhibition induced by perillyl alcohol and perillic acid was associated with a fall in the proportion of cells in the S phase and an accumulation of cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Finally, we showed that the effects of limonene-related monoterpenes on cell proliferation and cell cycle progression were preceded by a decrease in cyclin D1 mRNA levels.