Fenugreek a naturally occurring edible spice as an anticancer agent

Shabana Shabbeer, Michelle Sobolewski, Ravi Kumar Anchoori, Sushant Kachhap, Nancy Davidson, Michael A. Carducci, Saeed R. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, various dietary components that can potentially be used for the prevention and treatment of cancer have been identified. In this study, we demonstrate that extract (FE) from the seeds of the plant Trigonella foenum graecum, commonly called fenugreek, are cytotoxic in vitro to a panel of cancer but not normal cells. Treatment with 10-15 ug/mL of FE for 72 h was growth inhibitory to breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer cell lines (PCa). When tested at higher doses (15-20 ug/mL), FE continued to be growth inhibitory to PCa cell lines but not to either primary prostate or hTert-immortalized prostate cells. At least part of the growth inhibition is due to induction of cell death, as seen by incorporation of Ethidium Bromide III into cancer cells exposed to FE. Molecular changes induced in PCa cells are: in DU-145 cells: downregulation of mutant p53, and in PC-3 cells upregulation of p21 and inhibition of TGFβ induced phosphorylation of Akt. The surprising finding of our studies is that death of cancer cells occurs despite growth stimulatory pathways being simultaneously upregu-lated (phosphorylated) by FE. Thus, these studies add another biologically active agent to our armamentarium of naturally occurring agents with therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Breast cancer
  • Dietary bioactive agents
  • Diosgenin
  • Fenugreek
  • Pancreatic cancer and phosphorylation
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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