Breast cancer prevention with liquiritigenin from licorice through the inhibition of aromatase and protein biosynthesis in high-risk women’s breast tissue

Atieh Hajirahimkhan*, Caitlin Howell, Elizabeth T. Bartom, Huali Dong, Daniel D. Lantvit, Xiaoling Xuei, Shao Nong Chen, Guido F. Pauli, Judy L. Bolton, Susan E. Clare, Seema A. Khan, Birgit M. Dietz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Breast cancer risk continues to increase post menopause. Anti-estrogen therapies are available to prevent postmenopausal breast cancer in high-risk women. However, their adverse effects have reduced acceptability and overall success in cancer prevention. Natural products such as hops (Humulus lupulus) and three pharmacopeial licorice (Glycyrrhiza) species have demonstrated estrogenic and chemopreventive properties, but little is known regarding their effects on aromatase expression and activity as well as pro-proliferation pathways in human breast tissue. We show that Gycyrrhiza inflata (GI) has the highest aromatase inhibition potency among these plant extracts. Moreover, phytoestrogens such as liquiritigenin which is common in all licorice species have potent aromatase inhibitory activity, which is further supported by computational docking of their structures in the binding pocket of aromatase. In addition, GI extract and liquiritigenin suppress aromatase expression in the breast tissue of high-risk postmenopausal women. Although liquiritigenin has estrogenic effects in vitro, with preferential activity through estrogen receptor (ER)-β, it reduces estradiol-induced uterine growth in vivo. It downregulates RNA translation, protein biosynthesis, and metabolism in high-risk women’s breast tissue. Finally, it reduces the rate of MCF-7 cell proliferation, with repeated dosing. Collectively, these data suggest that liquiritigenin has breast cancer prevention potential for high-risk postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8734
JournalScientific reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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