Spirulina (SP) (Arthrospira platensis; previously Spirulina platensis) is a filamentous blue-green microalga (cyanobacterium) with potent dietary phytoantioxidant and anticancerous properties. We investigated the chemopreventive effect of SP against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced rat breast carcinogenesis, and further studied its underlying mechanisms of action in vitro. Remarkably, SP cleared DMBA-induced rat mammary tumors, which was clearly confirmed by morphological and histological methods. SP supplementation reduced the incidence of breast tumors from 87% to 13%. At the molecular level, immunohistochemical analysis revealed that SP supplementation reduced expression of both Ki-67 and estrogen α. More interestingly, molecular analysis in the in vitro experiments indicated that SP treatment inhibited cell proliferation by 24 hours, which was accompanied by increased p53 expression, followed by increased expression of its downstream target gene, Cdkn1a (alias p21 or p21Waf1/Cip1). In addition, SP increased Bax and decreased Bcl-2 expression, indicating induction of apoptosis by 48 hours after SP treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first report of in vivo chemopreventive effect of SP against DMBA-induced breast carcinogenesis in rat, supporting its potential use in chemoprevention of cancer.
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