Hydroxytyrosol is potential to impede the spread of triple-negative breast cancer cells

Polyphenols, naturally occurring substances found in plant-based foods and drinks, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tea, and red wine, have been recognized for their health benefits. Studies show that polyphenols, due to their anti-inflammatory properties, can counteract tumor growth. Additionally, polyphenols can form complexes with metals, such as copper, which is closely linked to cancer initiation and progression. This study focused on hydroxytyrosol, a derivative of oleuropein found in the Olea europaea plant, to explore its ability to form complexes with copper and potentially hinder the progression of triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive subtype lacking targeted therapy.


Recent research emphasizes the therapeutic potential of polyphenols, particularly in conditions like cancer, because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The study investigated hydroxytyrosol's impact on three triple-negative breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, and SUM159). Hydroxytyrosol was found to modulate intracellular copper levels, influencing epithelial and mesenchymal markers by downregulating copper-dependent AKT phosphorylation, a crucial step in the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) signaling cascade.


The study demonstrated that hydroxytyrosol acts as a chelating agent, forming a complex with copper, thus regulating copper homeostasis and affecting copper-dependent signaling cascades. The results indicated that hydroxytyrosol's copper-chelating properties reduce the aggressiveness of triple-negative breast cancer cells, potentially hindering their ability to form metastases. This not only highlights the therapeutic potential of hydroxytyrosol but also reinforces the significant role of copper in promoting the aggressiveness of triple-negative breast cancer cells.