Pterostilbene (trans-3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxystilbene), is a dimethylated analog of resveratrol which is found in blueberries , and is believed to be one of the active ingredients in ancient Indian Medicine . The pterostilbene molecule is structurally similar to resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine that has comparable anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties; however, pterostilbene exhibits increased bioavailability due to the presence of two methoxy groups which cause it to exhibit increased lipophilic and oral absorption [3-7]. In animal studies, pterostilbene was shown to have 80% bioavailability compared to 20% for resveratrol making it potentially advantageous as a therapeutic agent .
Direct anticancer activity of pterostilbene has been demonstrated in the majority of cancers including: melanoma [8-12], glioma [13-16], ovarian cancer [17, 18], prostate cancer [19-25], pancreatic cancer [26-28], breast cancer [29-41], liver cancer [42-45], colorectal cancer [46-48], and various liquid tumors (leukemias) [49-52]. The anticancer activities of pterostilbene are unique as compared to other agents such as chemotherapeutic agents or kinase inhibitors in that pterostilbene attacks tumors at multiple targets.
For example inhibition of tumor metastasis through suppression of matrix metalloproteases , suppression of tumor anti-apoptotic activity through modulation of bcl-2 , and nrf2 , and suppression of tumor cell cycle progression , have all been attributed to pterostilbene. Most interestingly, inhibition of cancer stem cells by pterostilbene administration has been reported . This would conceptually be in line with studies showing pterostilbene inhibition of drug resistant and radiation resistant tumors, which are believed to possess the resistance phenotype due to increased numbers of cancer stem cells .
Oxidative stress is a major feature of numerous types of cancer, caused by tumor cells themselves, as well as neutrophils and macrophages responding to the tumor. It is well known that chronic oxidative stress, which correlates to an inflammatory state in the patient, is a major contributor to immune suppression of both innate and adaptive arms of the immune system .
PubChem is an open chemistry database at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They describe pterostilbene as the following:
A naturally-derived stilbenoid structurally related to resveratrol, with potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, antineoplastic and cytoprotective activities. Upon administration, pterostilbene exerts its anti-oxidant activity by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS), thereby preventing oxidative stress and ROS-induced cell damage. It may also activate the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-mediated pathway and increase the expression of various antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD). In addition, pterostilbene is able to inhibit inflammation by reducing the expression of various inflammatory mediators, such as interleukin (IL) 1beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenases (COX), and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). It also inhibits or prevents the activation of many signaling pathways involved in carcinogenesis, and increases expression of various tumor suppressor genes while decreasing expression of certain tumor promoting genes. It also directly induces apoptosis in tumor cells.
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