Carnosol: A promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent.
The Mediterranean diet and more specifically certain meats, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil found in certain parts of the Mediterranean region have been associated with a decreased cardiovascular and diabetes risk. More recently, several population based studies have observed with these lifestyle choices have reported an overall reduced risk for several cancers. One study in particular observed an inverse relationship between consumption of Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, sage, parsley, and oregano with lung cancer. In light of these findings there is a need to explore and identify the anti-cancer properties of these medicinal herbs and to identify the phytochemicals therein. One agent in particular, carnosol, has been evaluated for anti-cancer property in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer with promising results. These studies have provided evidence that carnosol targets multiple deregulated pathways associated with inflammation and cancer that include nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), apoptotic related proteins, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3 K)/Akt, androgen and estrogen receptors, as well as molecular targets. In addition, carnosol appears to be well tolerated in that it has a selective toxicity towards cancer cells versus non-tumorigenic cells and is well tolerated when administered to animals. This mini-review reports on the pre-clinical studies that have been performed to date with carnosol describing mechanistic, efficacy, and safety/tolerability studies as a cancer chemoprevention and anti-cancer agent.
Johnson JJ. Cancer Letters. 2011 Mar 5.

Retinoids and Carnosol Suppress Cyclooxygenase-2 Transcription by CREB-binding Protein/p300-dependent and -independent Mechanisms.
Treatment with retinoic acid (RA) or carnosol, two structurally unrelated compounds with anticancerproperties, inhibited phorbol ester (PMA)-mediated induction of activator protein-1 (AP-1) activity and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in human mammary epithelial cells. The induction of COX-2 transcription by PMA was mediated by increased binding of AP-1 to the cyclic AMP response element (CRE) of the COX-2 promoter. Inhibition of the histone acetyltransferase activity of CREB- binding protein (CBP)/p300 blocked the induction of COX-2 by PMA. Treatment with carnosol but not RA blocked increased binding of AP-1 to the COX-2 promoter. Because AP-1 binding was unaffected by RA, we investigated whether RA inhibited COX-2 transcription via effects on the coactivator CBP/p300. Treatment with RA stimulated an interaction between RA receptor-α and CBP/p300; a corresponding decrease in the interaction between CBP/p300 and c-Jun was observed. Importantly, overexpressing CBP/p300 or dominant-negative RA receptor-? relieved the suppressive effect of RA on PMA-mediated stimulation of the COX-2 promoter. To elucidate the mechanism by which carnosol inhibited COX-2 transcription, its effects on protein kinase C (PKC) signaling were determined. Carnosol but not RA inhibited the activation of PKC, ERK1/2, p38, and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase. Overexpressing c-Jun but not CBP/p300 reversed the suppressive effect of carnosol on PMA-mediated stimulation of COX-2 promoter activity. Thus, RA acted by a receptor-dependent mechanism to limit the amount of CBP/p300 that was available for AP-1-mediated induction of COX-2. By contrast, carnosol inhibited the induction of COX-2 by blocking PKC signaling and thereby the binding of AP-1 to the CRE of the COX-2 promoter. Taken together, these results show that small molecules can block the activation of COX-2 transcription by distinct mechanisms.
Subbaramaiah K, Cole PA & Dannenberg AJ. Cancer Res May 1, 2002 62; 2522

Inhibition by rosemary and carnosol of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis and in vivo DMBA-DNA adduct formation
Extracts of the spice Rosemary officinalis L. have been reported to inhibit experimental carcinogenesis. Two rosemary components, carnosol and ursolic acid, appear to be partly responsible for the antitumorigenic activity of rosemary. The present studies were conducted in order to evaluate the activity of rosemary extract, carnosol and ursolic acid in inhibiting the in vivo formation of mammary 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-DNA adducts and the initiation of DMBA-induced mammary tumorigenesis in female rats. Supplementation of diets for 2 weeks with rosemary extract (0.5% by wt) but not carnosol (1.0%) or ursolic acid (0.5%) resulted in a significant decrease in the in vivo formation of rat mammary DMBA-DNA adducts, compared to controls. When injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) for 5 days at 200 mg/kg body wt, rosemary and carnosol, but not ursolic acid, significantly inhibited mammary adduct formation by 44% and 40%, respectively, compared to controls. Injection of this dose of rosemary and carnosol was associated with a significant 74% and 65% decrease, respectively, in the number of DMBA-induced mammary adenocarcinomas per rat, compared to controls. Ursolic acid injection had no effect on mammary tumorigenesis. Therefore, carnosol is one rosemary constituent that can prevent DMBA-induced DNA damage and tumor formation in the rat mammary gland, and, thus, has potential for use as a breast cancer chemopreventative agent.
Keith Singletary K, MacDonald C & Wallig M. Cancer Letters Volume 104, Issue 1, 24 June 1996, Pp 43-8 doi:10.1016/0304-3835(96)
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