Testing Açai Extract for Safety and Effects on Stomach Cancer Cells in the Lab

Jenn Hoskins
9th June, 2024

Testing Açai Extract for Safety and Effects on Stomach Cancer Cells in the Lab

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Universidade Federal do Pará (UFPA) evaluated the effects of clarified açaí juice extract on human metastatic gastric cancer cells (AGP01)
  • Açaí extract significantly reduced the viability of AGP01 cancer cells within 72 hours, without affecting normal VERO cells
  • The extract did not cause DNA damage or common forms of cell death (apoptosis or necrosis) in either cell line
  • Açaí extract reduced the motility of both cancerous and normal cells, potentially inhibiting cancer metastasis
Cancer remains a significant global health challenge, prompting continuous efforts to discover new, effective treatments. One promising avenue involves plant-derived compounds, known for their potential therapeutic properties. A recent study conducted by the Universidade Federal do Pará (UFPA) has focused on evaluating the effects of clarified açaí juice extract on a human metastatic gastric cancer cell line (AGP01 cells)[1]. The study's findings suggest that açaí could be a valuable adjuvant in cancer treatment, particularly for gastric cancer. The researchers aimed to investigate both the genotoxic (DNA-damaging) and cytotoxic (cell-killing) effects of açaí extract. For comparison, they used a non-transformed cell line of African green monkey renal epithelial cells (VERO cells). Multiple assays were employed to assess cell viability, DNA damage, cell death mechanisms, and cell motility. The viability assay, which measures the ability of cells to reduce resazurin, indicated a significant reduction in the viability of AGP01 cells within 72 hours of treatment with açaí extract. This reduction was not observed in the VERO cells, suggesting that the açaí extract selectively affects cancerous cells while sparing normal cells. This selective cytotoxicity is crucial for any potential cancer treatment to minimize side effects on healthy tissues. Interestingly, the comet assay, which detects DNA damage, revealed no genotoxic effects in either cell line. This finding is consistent with earlier research indicating that açaí does not induce genotoxic effects[2]. Additionally, the differential fluorescent dye assay showed no signs of apoptosis (programmed cell death) or necrosis (cell death due to injury) in both cell lines. This suggests that the reduction in viability of the AGP01 cells is not due to these common forms of cell death. One of the most intriguing findings of the study is the impact of açaí extract on cell motility. The wound healing migration assay demonstrated a significant reduction in the motility of both AGP01 and VERO cells. Reduced motility in cancer cells is particularly important because it can potentially inhibit metastasis, the process by which cancer spreads to other parts of the body. This aligns with previous studies that have shown the anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative properties of açaí[2]. The study's results open up new perspectives for the use of açaí as an adjuvant in cancer treatment, particularly for gastric cancer. The selective reduction in cancer cell viability and the inhibition of cell motility are promising features that could complement existing therapies. Moreover, the absence of genotoxic effects enhances the safety profile of açaí, making it a more attractive candidate for further research and clinical trials. These findings build on earlier research exploring the health benefits of açaí. For instance, a systematic review of preclinical models using rodents found that açaí exhibited anticarcinogenic and chemopreventive activities across various types of cancer[2]. The current study extends these observations to human cancer cells, providing a stronger basis for future clinical studies. Additionally, the study's focus on non-genotoxic mechanisms aligns with other research on the beneficial properties of plant-derived compounds. For example, clarified açaí juice has shown anticonvulsant properties by enhancing GABAergic neurotransmission, which involves the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain[3]. Such multifaceted benefits highlight the potential of açaí in various therapeutic contexts. In conclusion, the research conducted by UFPA adds valuable insights into the potential use of açaí as an adjuvant in gastric cancer treatment. The selective cytotoxicity and anti-migratory effects observed in cancer cells, combined with the absence of genotoxic damage, underscore the promise of açaí as a safe and effective therapeutic option. Further studies are warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and to validate these findings in clinical settings.



Main Study

1) In vitro assessment of the genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of clarified açai (Euterpe oleracea MART) extract in a gastric cancer cell line (AGP01 cells).

Published 6th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Anticancer potential, molecular mechanisms and toxicity of Euterpe oleracea extract (açaí): A systematic review.


3) Clarified Açaí (Euterpe oleracea) Juice as an Anticonvulsant Agent: In Vitro Mechanistic Study of GABAergic Targets.


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