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Chemopreventive potential of Santolina chamaecyparissus against MNU-induced mammary cancer in female Wistar rats
* 1, 2 , 3 , 3 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 3, 6 , 3, 7
1  Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences (CITAB), University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, 5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal
2  Institute for Innovation, Capacity Building and Sustainability of Agri-food Production (Inov4Agro), University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, 5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal
3  CITAB, Inov4Agro, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD), Vila Real, Portugal
4  Centro de Investigação de Montanha, Campus de Santa Apolónia, Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Bragança, Portugal
5  Centro de Investigação de Montanha (CIMO), Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Campus Santa Apolónia, Bragança, Portugal
6  Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal
7  Department of Veterinary Sciences, School of Agrarian and Veterinary Sciences, UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal
Academic Editor: Antonio Cilla


Breast cancer is the most often diagnosed cancer worldwide, with the greatest fatality rate among women in 2021. Santolina chamaecyparissus L. has been shown to successfully inhibit cancer cells’ proliferation, especially the human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) cell line. This study’s goal was to evaluate the chemopreventive potential of a S. chamaecyparissus aqueous extract (SCE) on -methyl­--nitrosourea (MNU)-induced mammary cancer in female rats.

This study was approved by the ORBEA under reference 834-e-CITAB-2020. Twenty-eight four-week-old female Wistar rats were divided into four groups: Control, MNU, SCE and SCE+MNU. SCE was supplemented in drinking water (120 µg/mL) ad libitum and replaced every 3 days due to the compounds’ stability. A total of nineteen compounds were identified in the extract, being myricetin-O-glucuronide and 1,3-O-dicaffeoylquinic acid the main compounds found. At 50 days of age, the MNU was administered by intraperitoneal route. Humane Endpoints analysis was performed weekly. Induced animals were palpated twice a week. Tumour width (W) and length (L) were weekly measured with a calliper. Tumour volume was also determined [V = (W2 × L) / 2]. After twenty-one weeks, animals were sacrificed by ketamine/xylazine overdose.

Control and SCE animals did not develop any tumours. In MNU group, the first tumour appeared during the ninth week; in SCE+MNU, it only appeared on the sixteenth week. No significant differences were found. However, the tumour incidence in SCE+MNU (28.57%) was lower than in MNU (57.14%). MNU group had a higher mean tumour weight (2.31±1.13) than SCE+MNU group (0.39±0.02) and a larger mean tumour volume (2.02±1.23) than SCE+MNU (0.57±0.15) (p>0.05).

Despite the lack of statistically significant differences between groups, the absence of mortality in SCE+MNU, as well as the lower values in each parameter, suggest that Santolina chamaecyparissus has interesting potential as a chemoprotective agent. Histopathological analysis will help understand this extract’s impact in oncogenesis.

Keywords: mammary cancer; MNU; natural compounds; Santolina; Wistar rats