Citrus scent inhibits liver cancer growth

Citrus scent inhibits liver cancer growth / Health News

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 cancer cells identified by the scientists could potentially help in the development of gentler cancer therapies.

Health promoting effect long known
The health-promoting effect of essential oils has long been known. Among other things, they are used in the so-called aromatherapy or as a home remedy for cough or home remedies for athlete's foot. The intensively scented plant substances have antibacterial, antiviral and fungicidal properties. In addition, it has been known for some time that terpenes, the main constituents of these oils, can also prevent various cancer cells from growing, including liver cancer. How exactly this is done, was previously unknown. But German researchers have now come to grips with the mystery.

Terpenes play an important role in carcinogenesis
By activating fragrance receptors, terpenes can trigger signaling processes in cells. Although these occur mainly in olfactory olfactory cells, but also in all other human tissues, such as in the skin, the prostate or in sperm. Terpenes also play an important role in the development of cancer and its growth, although it is still unclear what function they exactly perform. To find out, the researchers from the Ruhr University Bochum used a cell model for hepatocellular carcinoma, a common liver tumor. Hanns Hatt's scientists exposed the cells to varying concentrations of terpenes and observed their response.

Fits like a key in a lock
It showed that two of the eleven tested terpenes led to a significant increase in the calcium concentration in the cells: citronellal and citronellol. Researchers therefore focused on citronellal in further studies 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 is found in the liver cells and is responsible for the cell reaction. When the cells were deprived of the ability to make this receptor, they did not respond to the terpene.

Hope for gentler cancer therapy
In addition, the team succeeded in understanding the signaling pathway, in which the terpene causes the calcium concentration in the cell interior to increase, thereby reducing cell growth. The researchers published their findings in the journal „Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics“. The scientists write: „These results provide another example of the importance of off-the-nose scent receptors and give hope of developing new drugs for cancer therapy with fewer side effects.“ (Ad)

Image: Benjamin Klack