Citrus scent inhibits liver cancer growth

Citrus scent inhibits liver cancer growth

Citrus scent inhibits liver cancer growth

German researchers have found that certain components of essential oils can inhibit the growth of various cancer cells. The scent receptor on the cancer cells identified by the scientists could possibly help in the development of gentler cancer therapies.

Health-promoting effects have long been known The health-promoting effects of essential oils have been known for a long time. Among other things, they are used in so-called aromatherapy or as a home remedy for cough or home remedies for athlete's foot. The intensely fragrant plant substances have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. In addition, it has been known for some time that terpenes, the main components of these oils, can also prevent various cancer cells from growing, including liver cancer. Exactly how this is done was previously unknown. But German researchers have now uncovered the secret.

Terpenes play an important role in cancer development. By activating fragrance receptors, terpenes can trigger signaling processes in cells. Although they occur primarily in the olfactory cells of the nose, they can also be found in all other human tissues, such as the skin, prostate or sperm. Terpenes also play an important role in the development and growth of cancer, although it is not yet clear what exactly they do. To track this down, the researchers at the Ruhr University in Bochum used a cell model for hepatocellular carcinoma, a common liver tumor. Hanns Hatt's scientists exposed the cells to different concentrations of several terpenes and observed their reaction.

Fits like a key in a lock It was found that two of the eleven terpenes tested led to a significant increase in the calcium concentration in the cells: Citronellal and Citronellol. The researchers therefore focused on Citronellal in the further investigations and went in search of the receptor on which the terpene must fit like a key in a lock. The scientists were able to show that the crucial odor receptor called OR1A2 occurs in the liver cells and is responsible for the cell reaction. If the cells were deprived of the opportunity to produce this receptor, they would not respond to the terpene.

Hope for gentler cancer therapy In addition, the team was able to understand the signaling pathway on which the terpene leads to an increase in the calcium concentration inside the cell and thus a reduction in cell growth. The researchers published their results in the journal "Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics". The scientists write: "These results represent another example of the importance of fragrance receptors outside the nose and give hope that new drugs with fewer side effects can be developed for cancer therapy." (Ad)

Image: Benjamin Klack / pixelio.de

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