A new study shows that whole tomato extracts from two different Southern Italy cultivars inhibit gastric cancer cell growth and malignant features, paving the way for future studies aimed at implementing lifestyle habits not only for prevention but potentially as a support to conventional therapies.
"Their antitumoral effect seem not related to specific components, such as lycopene, but rather suggest that tomatoes should be considered in their entirety," says Daniela Barone, researcher at the Oncology Research Center of Mercogliano (CROM), and one of the authors of the study.
Experiments analyzed whole tomato lipophilic extracts for their ability to tackle various neoplastic features of gastric cancer cell lines. Extracts of both the San Marzano and Corbarino tomato varieties were able to inhibit the growth and cloning behavior of malignant cells. Treatment with the whole tomato extracts affected key processes within the cells hindering their migration ability, arresting cell cycle through the modulation of retinoblastoma family proteins and specific cell cycle inhibitors, and ultimately inducing cancer cell death through apoptosis.
The study, published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, details findings by Daniela Barone and Letizia Cito, from the research group directed by Prof. Antonio Giordano at the National Cancer Institute of Naples, Pascale Foundation, CROM.
"Our results prompt further assessment of the potential use of specific nutrients not only in the cancer prevention setting but also as a supportive strategy along with conventional therapies," says Prof. Antonio Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute for Molecular Medicine, Temple University and Professor of Pathology and Oncology at the University of Siena, Italy.
"Distinct species may exert different effects, in different stages of a certain neoplasm," adds Barone.
Gastric cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer worldwide and has been associated with genetic causes, Helicobacter pylori infection, and eating habits, such as consumption of smoked and salted food.
Tomatoes are consumed worldwide and are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is popularly thought to lower cancer risk. Various tomato components have also been analyzed for their ability to counteract tumor growth in experimental systems, although few studies have analyzed the effects of tomatoes in their entirety.
The study authors worked in collaboration with researchers from Prof. Barbara Nicolaus' group and Dr Rocco De Prisco at the National Research Council of Pozzuoli, Italy.
"This work stems from the SHRO research programme performed through a longstanding collaboration with the Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neuroscience, University of Siena, and the Pascale Institute, CROM of Mercogliano. On the wake of these results Dr Attilio Bianchi, General Director of the Pascale Institute and CROM, and I teamed up to renew the collaboration with SHRO implementing the nutrigenomics studies for the benefit of cancer patients," concludes Giordano.