The root of Moringa oleifera induces the apoptosis of cancer
The use of plants for therapeutic purposes is an ancient practice, used since ancient times by peoples who knew the properties of most plant species in the prevention and treatment of different diseases. This knowledge, still well rooted among the native populationof some nations, has also been transmitted to the industrialized Countries which, more and more often, employ, in the production of medicines, natural extracts that derive directly from certain plant species.
The explanation of this choice is linked more to a necessity, due to the difficulty or even the impossibility of synthesizing these substances in the laboratory because of their structural complexity. In the fight against tumors, scientific studies are spreading exponentially describing the use of natural compounds deriving directly from plants to the detriment of chemical substances produced in the laboratory, which often present too high toxicity even for healthy cells.
Moringa study: can it treat breast cancer and liver tumors?
One of these studies concerns the Moringa Oleifera, a species widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world and especially in India, close to the Himalayas. Specifically, the study referred to was conducted by researchers Ahmed A Abd-Rabou, Aboelfetoh M Abdalla, Naglaa A Ali and Khairy MA Zoheir all belonging to various Departments of the Medical Division of the National Research Center of Giza in Egypt and widespread on the APJCP (Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention) thanks to the granting of Western Asia Cancer Prevention Organization. Here you can find the original study in English language.
This study is aimed to analyze in vitro the behavior of the extracts from various Moringa parts on tumor cells and in particular those of breast, colorectal and liver carcinomas. The result was very interesting because it showed that, although each extract contributed to the destruction of cancer cells, the one which derives from the root of Moringa has had a more incisive effect on their death (up to 80% more) without having any negative outcomes, on the other hand, on healthy cells. The apoptotic effects of the Moringa nanocomposites have therefore highlighted their possible use as a natural anti-tumor element.
What is apoptosis and how does it apply to cancer treatment?
Before analyzing this research in detail, it is necessary to specify the concept of apoptosis which, in the analysis of the results obtained against cancer, is of fundamental importance. It is a term used in biology that indicates the programmed death of a cell. In very simple words apoptosis could be compared to a real “suicide”. In fact, there would be a sequence in the genetic program of a cell that, following biochemical changes, would determine its death. This occurs, for example, in the presence of viral infections where the infected cell self-destructs to prevent the virus from completing its life cycle extending to other cells.
The signal that induces apoptosis can come from outside, as in the case of stress conditions, thermal variations or irradiations or from inside, through proteins normally active in cellular life. The study of the processes that trigger apoptosis is carried out with particular interest, since there is still a lot to understand about the real mechanisms involved. In fact, their understanding would open the way to the treatment of very serious diseases such as cancer, in which case apoptosis should be solicited, or Alzheimer and AIDS, pathologies in which apoptosis should be blocked or slowed down.
The research carried out with Moringa extracts on tumor cells, is directed precisely towards an increase in their death.
The new frontiers in the fight against tumors
For many patients, the use of chemotherapy is too invasive, with an often devastating impact on general health; this is why more and more researches are being directed towards the use of components present in nature such as, for example, phenolic compounds which, ingested through human nutrition, have already shown prevention effects against some tumor cells.
The Moringa Oleifera, already widely known by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, seems to lend itself perfectly to this type of research since all its parts are edible and the use of the leaves has already shown antioxidant, immunostimulant, anticancer effects and prevention against cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, the decoction of the roots proved to be effective against malaria.
Current statistics show that cancer is always the main cause of death in the world, with a forecast of an increase of 70% in new cases over the next few decades. In men the most common forms of cancer are those of the lung, the prostate, the colon, the stomach and the liver, while in women the carcinoma of the breast, the uterus, the lung and the colon are more frequent. In this regard, the studies conducted in 2015 by Abdulrahman Khazim Al-Asmari et al. at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have identified how the action of Moringa extracts is effective on tumor cell death thanks to apoptosis and to a normal cell cycle arrest induced by a change in the phenotype of all diseased cells.
The aim of this research, on the other hand, was to demonstrate the effects of leaf and root extracts from Moringa cultivated in Egypt on colon, liver and breast cancer cells. The novelty lies in the use of nano particles of PLGA-CS-PEG, a biodegradable polymer (PLGA) treated with Chitosan (CS) and polyethylene glycol (a polymer used in pharmacology) whose dimensions provide unique results because they allow to convey the active ingredients in the cell limiting damage due to rapid phagocytosis.
Ahmed AAbd-Rabou and the Moringa study in detail:
This study has verified that, by increasing the concentration of the treatment with extracts from Moringa leaves, the activity of the liver tumor cells (HepG2) has decreased by 75%. Furthermore, the same concentrations of Moringa were administered to healthy subjects, comparing the results obtained and demonstrating how it has no negative effect on healthy cells. The study also reported significant changes in mitochondrial activity with increasing doses of Moringa, as already indicated by Mekonnen in his 2005 research. Specifically, there was an effective reduction of mitochondrial ATP (adenosine triphosphate, or molecule used to accumulate energy) in HepG2 tumor cells, which would demonstrate their progressive injury until death.
The results obtained with these and other studies clearly indicate the cytotoxicityof Moringaextracts with cell death and loss of ATP and GSH (glutathione) even if it is still unclear whether this represents the cause or consequence of the loss of their vitality and the integrity of the cell membrane.
The inhibitory effects of the Moringa root found on the activity of the tumor cells of the breast and the colon will reside in the presence of Euganol, Allose and Isopropyl Isothiocyanate. As demonstrated by the studies conducted by Abdulrahman Khazim Al-Asmari et al. at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Euganol, a phenolic natural substance contained in the leaves of Moringa, effectively induces the death of diseased cells for both breast and colorectal cancer. These results are in agreement with other researches carried out on Allose, according to which it would stop the cell cycle without any cytotoxic effect on healthy cells. The fewer cells found by researchers can be attributed to the presence of these compounds in the various parts of the Moringa plant that inhibit the function of a specific protein (E2F1) responsible for the spread and survival of tumor cells.
The study of Moringa root extracts carried out on various types of tumor cells (breast, colorectal and liver carcinoma) has shown that they are able to kill diseased cells while saving the healthy ones. In short, the substances deriving from the leaves, stems and roots of this plant decrease cell proliferation, indicating the death by apoptosis of all cancer cell lines. This study, together with those carried out by other researchers in the past, identify in Moringa a possible valid approach in anticancer therapy for aggressive forms of breast, colorectal and liver cancer.