Luteolin, a natural phytochemical found in thyme, parsley, celery and broccoli, might reduce the risk of lung metastasis in women with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), according to researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.1

TNBC cells lack 3 key receptors: estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2/neu). The absence of these receptors from TNBC cells renders them impervious to common cancer chemotherapy drugs and quicker to metastasize to distant organs such as the lungs.

Studying human TNBC xenografts in mice prone to develop metastatic TNBC tumors in the lungs, the research team found that luteolin injections significantly reduced metastasis in the lungs, usually without weight loss — an indicator that the luteolin was nontoxic to the animals.

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In vitro cell line experiments subsequently showed that luteolin inhibits TNBC cell migration.

Additional preclinical studies are planned. If successful, the researchers will seek investigative new drug status for luteolin and begin human clinical trials.


1. Cook MT, Liang Y, Besch-Williford C, Hyder SM. Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells. Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy. 2017;9:9-19. doi: 10.2147/BCTT.S124860