Anutritive isoprenoid constituents of fruits, vegetables, cereal grains and essential oils exhibit a spectrum of anticarcinogenic activities. The induction of hepatic Phase II detoxifying activities by dietary isoprenoids appears to underlie their blocking action. The second anticarcinogenic action of the dietary isoprenoids, suppression of the growth of chemically initiated and transplanted tumors is, we suggest, secondary to the inhibition of mevalonate pathway activities. Mevinolin, a competitive inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase activity, depletes cells of the intermediate products of the pathway that are required for the posttranslational modification of proteins, a process giving the proteins lipophilic anchors that bind to membranes. As a consequence, nuclear lamins and ras oncoproteins remain in nascent states, and cells do not proliferate. gamma-Tocotrienol, perillyl alcohol, geraniol and d-limonene suppress hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity, a rate-limiting step in cholesterol synthesis, and modestly lower serum-cholesterol levels of animals. These isoprenoids also suppress tumor growth. The HMG-CoA reductase of neoplastic tissues differs from that of sterologenic tissues in being markedly resistant to sterol feedback inhibition. Our review suggests that the mevalonate pathway of tumor tissues is uniquely sensitive to the inhibitory actions of the dietary isoprenoids.
Inhibition of tumour promotion by various vitamin E compounds (tocopherols and tocotrienols) and some of their dimers was examined by an in vitro assay utilizing the activation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) early antigen (EA) expression in EBV-genome-carrying human lymphoblastoid cells. The results reveal that gamma- and delta-tocotrienols derived from palm oil exhibit a strong activity against tumour promotion by inhibiting EBV EA expression in Raji cells induced by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). However, alpha- and gamma-tocopherols and dimers of gamma-tocotrienol or gamma-tocopherol lack this activity.