Author(s): Bolhassani A, Khavari A, Bathaie SZ
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Abstract Saffron, a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, is rich in carotenoids. Two main natural carotenoids of saffron, crocin and crocetin, are responsible for its color. Preclinical studies have shown that dietary intake of some carotenoids have potent anti-tumor effects both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting their potential preventive and/or therapeutic roles in several tissues. The reports represent that the use of carotenoids without the potential for conversion to vitamin A may provide further protection and avoid toxicity. The mechanisms underlying cancer chemo-preventive activities of carotenoids include modulation of carcinogen metabolism, regulation of cell growth and cell cycle progression, inhibition of cell proliferation, anti-oxidant activity, immune modulation, enhancement of cell differentiation, stimulation of cell-to-cell gap junction communication, apoptosis and retinoid-dependent signaling. Taken together, different hypotheses for the antitumor actions of saffron and its components have been proposed such as a) the inhibitory effect on cellular DNA and RNA synthesis, but not on protein synthesis; b) the inhibitory effect on free radical chain reactions; c) the metabolic conversion of naturally occurring carotenoids to retinoids; d) the interaction of carotenoids with topoisomerase II, an enzyme involved in cellular DNA-protein interaction. Furthermore, the immunomodulatory activity of saffron was studied on driving toward Th1 and Th2 limbs of the immune system. In this mini-review, we briefly describe biochemical and immunological activities and chemo-preventive properties of saffron and natural carotenoids as an anticancer drug. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research