Purple Potatoes Decrease Colon Tumors in Mice

Purple Potatoes

Previous lab studies have suggested that the purple-pigment anthocyanins and other related phytochemicals show anti-cancer effects. Now a lab study has found that baked purple potatoes and their compounds slow the growth of colon cancer tumors in mice by targeting the cancer's stem cells.

The study was published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The research builds on evidence indicating that colon cancer stem cells cause tumor initiation and growth. Study researchers first found that a baked purple potato extract suppressed the spread and increased apoptosis of colon cancer stem cells. The tests were conducted among stems cells both with and without a functioning p53, a tumor suppressor gene that is mutated in about half of tumors.

Researchers then tested the effect of baked purple potatoes on mice with colon cancer and found similar results. When compared to mice given a standard anti-inflammatory drug (sulindac), cancer stem cells in mice consuming the purple potato had increased apoptosis after one week. There were also fewer cells containing nuclear β-cateninan, a regulator of cancer stem cell proliferation. After four weeks, mice consuming purple potatoes had about 50 percent fewer colon cancer tumors compared to the control group.

Purple-fleshed potatoes are a good source of anthocyanins and phenolic acids. According to the authors, purple potatoes may contain several substances that work simultaneously on multiple pathways to help kill colon cancer stem cells. Butyric acid, a bacterial fermentation product of resistant starch, can regulate immune function in the gut, suppresses chronic inflammation and may also help to cause cancer cells to self-destruct. There may also be synergy between the short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid, anthocyanins and other compounds, such as chlorogenic acid, notes the author.

More research is needed to determine how this research will translate for people.

This research was supported by a National Research Initiative Grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture. 

Source: Venkata Charepalli, Lavanya Reddivari, Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Ramakrishna Vadde, Rajesh Agarwal, Jairam K.P. Vanamala. Anthocyanin-containing purple-fleshed potatoes suppress colon tumorigenesis via elimination of colon cancer stem cells. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2015. Published Online: August 14, 2015.

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    Published on September 1, 2015

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