Elucidating the Anti-Tumor Mechanisms of Naturally Derived Capsaicin

Student Author(s)

Samantha Moffat

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Gerald Griffin, Biology

Document Type


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Neuroblastoma is an extra-cranial solid cancer that primarily affects children. Aggressive neuroblastoma tumors typically demonstrate resistance to conventional chemotherapeutic and radiotherapeutic regimens. The Capsicum chinense pepper fruit is heavily grown and consumed by indigenous people in the southern Americas, southeastern Asia, and West Africa. Multiple reports have pointed to the pepper fruit to have multiple health benefits, including the ability to combat cancer. Combining these findings with the need for novel and safer pediatric cancer treatments, this study tested if Capsicum chinense pepper fruit extract has therapeutic potential for neuroblastoma. More specifically, we tested the hypothesis that capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin-containing extracts from Capsicum chinense decreased viability of neuroblastoma cells. To test this hypothesis, ripe Capsicum chinense red fruits were grounded to paste and weighed. Next, the capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin components were extracted using hexane. Then, a range of concentrations (1pg/mL–100 mg/mL) of the extract was administered to cultured SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Lastly, the trypan blue assay was conducted to measure cell viability. Our findings showed that capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin-containing extract from Capsicum chinense reduced neuroblastoma cell viability in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC50 of 69.75 µg/mL. These results illustrated that Capsicum chinense extract containing capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin is effective in reducing viability of neuroblastoma cells in vitro and may serve as a naturally derived treatment source for this pediatric cancer.

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