Oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil rapidly and selectively induces cancer cell death

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The researchers, nutritional scientist Paul Breslin (Rutgers University), biologist David Foster (Hunter College) and chemist Onica LeGendre (Hunter College) investigated the effect of oleocanthal (OC) on human cancer cell lines in culture.

Oleocanthal, a phenolic compound in extra virgin olive oil, has been implicated in the health benefits associated with diets rich in olive oil.

Amazingly, oleocanthal induced cell death in all cancer cells examined – as rapidly as 30 minutes after treatment in the absence of serum.

OC treatment of non-transformed cells suppressed proliferation, but did not cause cell death.

Oleocanthal induced both primary necrotic and apoptotic cell death via induction of lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP).

Researchers provide evidence that oleocanthal promotes LMP by inhibiting acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) activity, which destabilizes the interaction between proteins necessary for lysosomal membrane stability.

The data presented here indicates that cancer cells having fragile lysosomal membranes – as compared to non-cancerous cells – are susceptible to lysosomotropic agent-induced cell death. Therefore, targeting lysosomal membrane stabiltiy represents a novel approach to induce cancer-specific cell death.

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