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Grape Seed Extract Increases Effectiveness of Chemotherapy While Alleviating Damaging Side Effects

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 25 Feb 2014
Image: Grape seed extract may represent a new therapeutic option to alleviate damage caused by chemotherapy to intestinal tissues while reducing the viability of colon cancer cells (Photo courtesy of Nutritional Outlook).
Image: Grape seed extract may represent a new therapeutic option to alleviate damage caused by chemotherapy to intestinal tissues while reducing the viability of colon cancer cells (Photo courtesy of Nutritional Outlook).
Australian cancer researchers have shown that grape seed extract can alleviate some of the damage caused by chemotherapy for colon cancer while increasing the effectiveness of the treatment.

Grape seed extract is used as a folk or traditional remedy for conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation; complications related to diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage; vision problems, such as macular degeneration; swelling after an injury or surgery; cancer prevention; and wound healing. Previous work with cancer cells found that compounds in grape seed extract created an environment that was unfavorable for cancer cell growth.

Investigators at the University of Adelaide (Australia) worked with commercially available grape seed extract that was composed of tannins extracted from the grape seeds that had been freeze-dried and powdered. The extract was tested in laboratory studies using colon cancer cells grown in culture and in a rat cancer model.

Results published in the January 21, 2014, online edition of the journal PLOS ONE revealed that the grape seed extract increased the growth-inhibitory effects of chemotherapy (5-Fluorouracil) on colon cancer cells in culture by 26%. In the animal model the extract showed no side effects on healthy intestinal tissue at concentrations of up to 1,000 milligrams per kilogram. Co-treatment with the extract decreased chemotherapy-induced inflammation by up to 55% and significantly decreased intestinal damage compared to the chemotherapy control.

"This is the first study showing that grape seed can enhance the potency of one of the major chemotherapy drugs in its action against colon cancer cells," said first author Dr. Amy Cheah, a researcher at the University of Adelaide. "Our research also showed that in laboratory studies grape seed taken orally significantly reduced inflammation and tissue damage caused by chemotherapy in the small intestine, and had no harmful effects on noncancerous cells. Unlike chemotherapy, grape seed appears to selectively act on cancer cells and leave healthy cells almost unaffected."

"Our experimental studies have shown that grape seed extract reduced chemotherapy-induced inflammation and damage and helped protect healthy cells in the gastrointestinal tract," said Dr. Cheah. "While this effect is very promising, we were initially concerned that grape seed could reduce the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. In contrast, we found that grape seed extract not only aided the ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, but was also more potent than the chemotherapy we tested at one concentration."

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