In The News

Procyanidins in Grape Seeds May Boost Chemotherapy’s Benefits

Low molecular weight procyanidins from grape seeds enhance the impact of 5-Fluorouracil chemotherapy on Caco-2 human colon cancer cells. Grape seed procyanidins (PC) are natural compounds known for their biological activity in the gut. Grape seed extracts have been reported to reduce intestinal injury in laboratory models of mucositis—inflammation in the digestive tract often induced by chemotherapy drugs. Researchers investigated the effects of purified PC fractions combined with 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) a common cancer-fighting chemotherapy drug on the viability of a line of colon cancer cells (taco-2).

Six PC fractions were isolated from Cabernet Sauvignon seeds in unripe and ripe forms. These fractions were then tested on Caco-2 cells, alone and in combination with 5-FU.

All isolated fractions significantly reduced Caco-2 cell viability compared to the control (P<0.05), but two of them (both from unripe) were the most active at 32 percent and 35 percent respectively. All fractions from unripe seeds enhanced the effectiveness of 5-FU against Caco-2 cells, whether combined or alone, although ripe grape seed fractions were more potent at decreasing viability in Caco-2 cells (by 83 to 87 percent) compared to the drug alone at 37 percent.


In this case, all of the tested procyanidins from grape seed enhanced the chemotherapy drug, but also were more active against the cancer cells than the drug alone. In the past, procyanidins from grape seed extract have been investigated for their ability to protect cells by stopping DNA damage, but studies have been inconsistent. That’s because these procyanidin compounds often have a high molecular weight and aren’t well absorbed. This study shows the importance of low molecular weight grape seed procyanidins to enhance the activity of some chemotherapy drugs. For patients, this may translate to the need for less chemotherapy medication because of the increased cell protection from grape seed extract procyanidins.

Source: Cheah KY, Howarth GS, Bindon KA, Kennedy JA, Bastian SE. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 6;9(6):e98921.  As reported in Good Health Magazine, Lifestyles.