You are here: Home / Research Groups / TumHyp / Pectin fragments as new anti-cancer agents

Pectin fragments as new anti-cancer agents

In collaboration with Profs P. Van Cutsem and S. Vincent

Pectin fragmentsModified forms of citrus pectin possess anticancer properties. However, their mechanism of action and the structural features involved remain unclear. We showed that citrus pectin modified by heat treatment displayed cytotoxic effects in cancer cells. A fractionation approach was used aiming to identify active molecules. It evidenced that most of the activity was related to molecules with molecular weight corresponding to low degree of polymerization oligogalacturonic acid. Heat-treatment of galacturonic acid also generated cytotoxic molecules. Furthermore, heat-modified galacturonic acid and heat-fragmented pectin contained the same molecule that induced cell death when isolated by HPLC separation. Mass spectrometry analyses revealed that 4,5-dihydroxy-2-cyclopenten-1-one was one cytotoxic molecule present in heat-treated pectin. Finally, we synthesized the enantiopure (4R,5R)-4,5-dihydroxy-2-cyclopenten-1-one and demonstrated that this molecule was cytotoxic and induced a similar pattern of apoptotic-like features than heat-modified pectin. Current research aims at synthesizing analogs with more specific effects towards cancer cells versus normal cells.

Selected publications

  • Leclere L, Fransolet M, Cambier P, El Bkassiny S, Tikad A, Dieu M, Vincent SP, Van Cutsem P & Michiels C 2015, ‘Identification of a cytotoxic molecule in heat-modified citrus pectin’ Carbohydrate Polymers, vol 137, pp. 39-51.
  • Leclere L, Fransolet M, Cote F, Cambier P, Arnould T, Van Cutsem P, &Michiels C 2015 ‘Heat-modified citrus pectin induces apoptosis-like cell death and autophagy in HepG2 and A549 cancer cells’ PLoS One, vol10, pp. e0115831.
  •  Leclere, L, Cutsem, PV & Michiels, C 2013, 'Anti-cancer activities of pH- or heat-modified pectin' Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol 4, pp. 128.

List of research projects