Seed-derived peptide lunasin suppressed breast cancer cell growth by regulating inflammatory mediators, aromatase, and estrogen receptors

  • Chia-Chien Hsieh Department of Biochemical Science & Technology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Chi-Hao Wu School of Life Science, Undergraduate and Graduate Programs of Nutrition Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Shih-Han Peng School of Life Science, Undergraduate and Graduate Programs of Nutrition Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Chia-Hsin Chang School of Life Science, Undergraduate and Graduate Programs of Nutrition Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
Keywords: aromatase, breast cancer, lunasin, inflammation, estrogen receptor


Background: Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in women. Its pathology comprises tumor cells and nearby stromal cells, accompanied by cytokines and stimulated molecules, resulting in a favorable microenvironment for tumor progression. Lunasin is a seed peptide with multiple bioactivities derived from seeds. However, the chemopreventive effect of lunasin on different characteristics of breast cancer has not been fully explored.

Objective: This study aims to explore the chemopreventive mechanisms of lunasin through inflammatory mediators and estrogen-related molecules in breast cancer cells.

Design: Estrogen-dependent MCF-7 and independent MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were used. The β-estradiol was used to mimic physiological estrogen. The gene expression, mediator secretion, cell vitality, and apoptosis impacting breast malignancy were explored.

Results: Lunasin did not affect normal MCF-10A cell growth but inhibited breast cancer cell growth, increased interleukin (IL)-6 gene expression and protein production at 24 h, and decreased its secretion at 48 h. In both breast cancer cells, aromatase gene and activity and estrogen receptor (ER)α gene expression were decreased by lunasin treatment, while ERβ gene levels were significantly increased in MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, lunasin decreased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion and cell vitality and induced cell apoptosis in both breast cancer cell lines. However, lunasin only decreased leptin receptor (Ob-R) mRNA expression in MCF-7 cells. Additionally, β-estradiol increased MCF-7-cell proliferation but not the proliferation of other cells; in particular, lunasin still inhibited MCF-7-cell growth and cell vitality in the presence of β-estradiol.

Conclusion: Seed peptide lunasin inhibited breast cancer cell growth by regulating inflammatory, angiogenic, and estrogen-related molecules, suggesting that lunasin is a promising chemopreventive agent.


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World Health Organization. Breast cancer. 2021. Available from: [cited 4 May 2021].

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How to Cite
Hsieh C.-C., Wu C.-H., Peng S.-H., & Chang C.-H. (2023). Seed-derived peptide lunasin suppressed breast cancer cell growth by regulating inflammatory mediators, aromatase, and estrogen receptors. Food & Nutrition Research, 67.
Original Articles