Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol inhibit MCF-7 breast cancer cell proliferation interfering with ERK1/2 activation

Rosa Sirianni, Adele Chimento, Arianna de Luca, Ivan Casaburi, Pietro Rizza, Arianna Onofrio, Domenico Iacopetta, Francesco Puoci, Sebastiano Andò, Marcello Maggiolini, Vincenzo Pezzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


The growth of many breast tumors is stimulated by estradiol (E2), which activates a classic mechanism of regulation of gene expression and signal transduction pathways inducing cell proliferation. Polyphenols of natural origin with chemical similarity to estrogen have been shown to interfere with tumor cell proliferation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether hydroxytyrosol (HT) and oleuropein (OL), two polyphenols contained in extra-virgin olive oil, can affect breast cancer cell proliferation interfering with E2-induced molecular mechanisms. Both HT and OL inhibited proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Luciferase gene reporter experiments, using a construct containing estrogen responsive elements able to bind estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and the study of the effects of HT or OL on ERα expression, demonstrated that HT and OL are not involved in ERα-mediated regulation of gene expression. However, further experiments pointed out that both OL and HT determined a clear inhibition of E2-dependent activation of extracellular regulated kinase1/2 belonging to the mitogen activating protein kinase family. Our study demonstrated that HT and OL can have a chemo-preventive role in breast cancer cell proliferation through the inhibition of estrogen-dependent rapid signals involved in uncontrolled tumor cell growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-840
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Nutrition and Food Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


  • Cancer
  • Estrogen
  • Hydroxytyrosol
  • MCF-7
  • Oleuropein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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