Herbal Catnip in Reducing the Risk and Treatment of Breast Cancer

Herbal catnip may have a potential and substantial effect in reduced risk and treatment of breast cancer, some scientists suggested.

Catnip is also known as catswort, or catmint, a plant of Nepeta, belongings to the family of Lamiaceae, native to Europe and Asia, use in herbal medicine as insect repellent and to treat digestive disorders, children restlessness and nervousness, fevers, colds and flu, skin irritations stimulate sweating, promote menstruation, etc..

Besides the major constituent of terpenoid nepetalactone, the herb also contains α-Pinene, β-Pinene, Cyclohexen-1-yl-methyl ketone, Triplal, Thymol, Nepetalactone, Nepetalactone, etc..

Breast cancer is a medical condition characterized by irregular cell growth in the tissue of the breast. At the later stage, the cancerous cell may invade other healthy tissues and organs a distance away from the original site.

According to statistics, approximately 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12.4%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.

In a comparison of breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231) to the non-cancer line (MCF-10A) to evaluate the cytotoxic and apoptogenic activity of EtOH 70%, hexane and aqueous extracts isolated from the herbal plant catnip, researchers showed that catnip inhibited the growth of malignant cells in a time and dose-dependent manner.

The hexane extract induced greater cytotoxicity in precipitated cancer cell apoptosis in compared to other extracts.

Further analysis, also indicated that at a dose of 60 μg/ml concentration of catnip hexane extract reduced the expression of mRNA of ornithine decarboxylase 1 in response to growth-promoting stimuli and exhibited a high turnover rate of breast cancer.

Over expressions of mRNA of tumor ornithine decarboxylase levels heterogeneity found in breast cell lines were associated to significantly increase the mean of tumor malignancy by 4.9 and 3.6 fold of adenosine deaminase, an E2 responsive in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and by 3.5 and 2.6 in MCF-7 cell line and MDA-MB-231 cell line, respectively and in compared to control.

Tumor ornithine decarboxylase gene is also considered as a biomarker as a prognostic factor for breast cancer. Increased serum of adenosine deaminase is found to correlate to cancer progression and malignancy.

The results indicated that the application of catnip methanol hexane extract scores a high potential in modulating the expression of ornithine decarboxylase 1 and adenosine deaminase genes in breast cancer cells in inhibiting malignant cancer proliferation and induced apoptosis.

Moreover, the investigation of the anticancer activities of chloroform Nepeta deflersiana extract and various sub-fractions (ND-1-ND-15) of ND against human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) by the King Saud University suggested that applications of selected sub-fractions of the chloroform extract at dose of 10-1000 μg/ml for 24 hours, displays a significant reduction of the cell viability of MCF-7 cancer cell line and altered the cellular morphology in a concentration-dependent manner.
Additional analysis indicated that N-10 isolated from catnip expressed greater cytotoxicity in induced cancer death compared to other fractions according to the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay.

According to the neutral red uptake assay, ND-1 extract did not cause any cytotoxicity in MCF-7 cells exposed for 24 h. However, the ND-10 extract was found more toxic toward breast cancer cells.

Finally, in MCF-7 cells, application at doses at 500 and 1000 μg/ml concentrations of all extracts exhibited a huge activity on in reduced the normal morphology of the cells and cell adhesion capacity compared to the control.

And most of the breast cancer cells at 1000 μg/ml concentration lost their typical morphology and appeared smaller in size and shrunken.

Compared to cancer cell line A-549 cells, MCF-7 cells were less sensitive to growth inhibition by all the extracts.

Taken together, there is no doubt that catnip and its methanol extracts may be a potential and therapeutic source of pharmacologically active molecules for the development of the chemotherapeutic drug for the treatment of breast cancer.

(1) Growth inhibition of human breast cancer cells and down-regulation of ODC1 and ADA genes by Nepeta binaloudensis by Akbar Safipour, Afshar Fatemeh Saeid Nematpour, Mahshid Meshkani, and ArezosadatKhafi(Science Direct)
(2) Anticancer Activity of Chloroform Extract and Sub-fractions of Nepeta deflersiana on Human Breast and Lung Cancer Cells: An In vitro Cytotoxicity Assessment by Al-Oqail MM1, Al-Sheddi ES1, Siddiqui MA2, Musarrat J2, Al-Khedhairy AA2, Farshori NN1.(PubMed)