Molecular nutrition & food research

Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol activate GPER/ GPR30-dependent pathways leading to apoptosis of ER-negative SKBR3 breast cancer cells.

PMID 24019118


We have previously demonstrated that oleuropein (OL) and hydroxytyrosol (HT) reduce 17β-estradiol-mediated proliferation in MCF-7 breast cancer (BC) cells without affecting the classical genomic action of estrogen receptor (ER), but activating instead the ERK1/2 pathway. Here, we hypothesized that this inhibition could be mediated by a G-protein-coupled receptor named GPER/GPR30. Using the ER-negative and GPER-positive SKBR3 BC cells as experimental model, we investigated the effects of OL and HT on GPER-mediated activation of downstream pathways. Docking simulations and ligand-binding studies evidenced that OL and HT are able to bind GPER. MTT cell proliferation assays revealed that both phenols reduced SKBR3 cell growth; this effect was abolished silencing GPER. Focusing on OL and HT GPER-mediated pathways, using Western blot analysis we showed a sustained ERK1/2 activation triggering an intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Showing that OL and HT work as GPER inverse agonists in ER-negative and GPER-positive SKBR3 BC cells, we provide novel insights into the potential of these two molecules as tools in the therapy of this subtype of BC.