Effect of an aqueous extract of selenium-enriched garlic on in vitro markers and in vivo efficacy in cancer prevention

Junxuan Lu, Hongying Pei, Clement Ip, Donald J. Lisk, Howard Ganther, Henry J. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Previous work has shown that the efficacy of cancer prevention by selenium-enriched garlic (Se-garlic) is primarily dependent on the action of selenium. An aqueous extract containing 43 μg Se/ml was prepared from lyophilized Se-garlic powder by the Soxhlet method. The activity of this Se-garlic extract was evaluated in a transformed mammary epithelial cell culture model for its effect on cell morphology, cell growth, cell cycle progression and the induction of single and double stranded breaks in DNA. Comparisons were also made with a similarly prepared extract from regular garlic, Se-methylselenocysteine (a major water-soluble seleno-amino acid identified in Se-garlic) and selenite (used for fertilizing Se-garlic). In contrast to the regular garlic extract which produced little or no modulation of the above parameters, treatment with the Se-garlic extract resulted in growth inhibition, G1 phase cell cycle arrest and apoptotic DNA double strand breaks in the absence of DNA single strand breaks. This pattern of cellular responses was duplicated with exposure to Se-methylselenocysteine. Selenite, on the other hand, induced cell cycle blockage in the S/G2-M phase, and a marked increase in DNA single strand breaks (a measure of genotoxicity) in addition to growth suppression. The chemopreventive efficacy of the two garlic extracts was also investigated in the rat methylnitrosourea mammary tumor model. Both extracts were supplemented in the diet for 1 month immediately following carcinogen administration. Significant cancer protection was observed with treatment by the Se-garlic extract (at 3 p.p.m. Se in the diet), while little benefit was noted with treatment by the regular garlic extract. Based on the above in vitro and in who findings, it is hypothesized that the Se-garlic extract, in part via the action of Se-methylselenocysteine, is able to inhibit tumorigenesis by suppressing the proliferation and reducing the survival of the early transformed cells. Furthermore, the data also support the concept that the modulation of certain in vitro markers may be of value in predicting the effectiveness of novel forms of selenium for cancer prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1903-1907
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cancer Research

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