Anthocyanin- and hydrolyzable tannin-rich pomegranate fruit extract modulates MAPK and NF-κB pathways and inhibits skin tumorigenesis in CD-1 mice

Farrukh Afaq, Mohammad Saleem, Christian G. Krueger, Jess D. Reed, Hasan Mukhtar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

431 Scopus citations


Chemoprevention has come of age as an effective cancer control modality; however, the search for novel agent(s) for the armamentarium of cancer chemoprevention continues. We argue that agents capable of intervening at more than one critical pathway in the carcinogenesis process will have greater advantage over other single-target agents. Pomegranate fruit extract (PFE) derived from the tree Punica granatum possesses strong antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties. Pomegranate fruit was extracted with acetone and analyzed based on matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and found to contain anthocyanins, ellagitannins and hydrolyzable tannins. We evaluated whether PFE possesses antitumor-promoting effects. We first determined the effect of topical application of PFE to CD-1 mice against 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced conventional markers and other novel markers of skin tumor promotion. We found that topical application of PFE (2 mg/mouse) 30 min prior to TPA (3.2 nmole/mouse) application on mouse skin afforded significant inhibition, in a time-dependent manner, against TPA-mediated increase in skin edema and hyperplasia, epidermal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and protein expression of ODC and cyclooxygenase-2. We also found that topical application of PFE resulted in inhibition of TPA-induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38 and JNK1/2, as well as activation of NF-κB and IKKα and phosphorylation and degradation of IκBα. We next assessed the effect of skin application of PFE on TPA-induced skin tumor promotion in 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-initiated CD-1 mouse. The animals pretreated with PFE showed substantially reduced tumor incidence and lower tumor body burden when assessed as total number of tumors per group, percent of mice with tumors and number of tumors per animal as compared to animals that did not receive PFE. In TPA-treated group, 100% of the mice developed tumors at 16 weeks on test, whereas at this time in PFE-treated group, only 30% mice exhibited tumors. Skin application of PFE prior to TPA application also resulted in a significant delay in latency period from 9 to 14 weeks and afforded protection when tumor data were considered in terms of tumor incidence and tumor multiplicity. The results of our study provide clear evidence that PFE possesses antiskin-tumor-promoting effects in CD-1 mouse. Because PFE is capable of inhibiting conventional as well as novel biomarkers of TPA-induced tumor promotion, it may possess chemopreventive activity in a wide range of tumor models. Thus, an in-depth study to define active agent(s) in PFE capable of affording antitumor-promoting effect is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-433
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 20 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemoprevention
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • NF-κB
  • Ornithine decarboxylase
  • Pomegranate fruit extract


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