Soy peptide lunasin has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties

December 02, 2009

URBANA - Two new University of Illinois studies report that lunasin, a soy peptide often discarded in the waste streams of soy-processing plants, may have important health benefits that include fighting leukemia and blocking the inflammation that accompanies such chronic health conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

"We confirmed lunasin's bioavailability in the human body by doing a third study in which men consumed 50 grams of soy protein--one soy milk shake and a serving of soy chili daily--for five days. Significant levels of the peptide in the participants' blood give us confidence that lunasin-rich soy foods can be important in providing these health benefits," said Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition.

In the cancer study, de Mejia's group identified a key sequence of amino acids--arginine, glycine, and aspartic acid, (the RGD motif)--that triggered the death of leukemia cells by activating a protein called caspase-3.

"Other scientists have noted the cancer-preventive effects of the RGD sequence of amino acids so it's important to find proteins that have this sequence," she said.

The scientists also verified lunasin's ability to inhibit topoisomerase 2, an enzyme that marks the development of cancer, and they were able to quantify the number of leukemia cells that were killed after treatment with lunasin in laboratory experiments.

In another study, the first to report lunasin's potential anti-inflammatory activity, they showed that lunasin blocked or reduced the activation of an important marker called NF-kappa-B, a link in the chain of biochemical events that cause inflammation.

They also found statistically significant reductions in interleukin-1 and interleukin-6, both important players in the inflammatory process. The reduction in interleukin-6 was particularly strong, she said.

Although inflammation is linked in the public mind with chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, de Mejia said it also plays a role in the development of cancer. "We know that chronic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of malignancies, that it's a critical factor in tumor progression," she said.

"And we can see that daily consumption of lunasin-rich soy protein may help to reduce chronic inflammation. Future studies should help us to make dietary recommendations," she added.

Although the high cost of obtaining lunasin from soy waste limits its use for nutritional interventions, soy flour does contain high concentrations of the peptide, she said.

And de Mejia utilized the USDA soybean germplasm collection housed at the U of I, studying 144 soy genotypes to learn which varieties contain the most lunasin.

"Some genotypes contain very high concentrations of lunasin, others contain no lunasin, and some locations yield more lunasin-rich beans than others," she said.
-end-
De Mejia spoke recently about this work at the Latin American Congress of Food Science and Technology in Brazil, the Latin American Congress of Nutrition in Chile, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology at National Taiwan University.

The leukemia study was published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. Wenyi Wang and Vermont Dia are co-authors. Lunasin's anti-inflammatory effects were described in Food Chemistry. V. P. Dia, W. Wang, and V. L. Oh of the U of I and B. O. de Lumen of the University of California, Berkeley, were co-authors. Both studies were funded by the USDA Future Food Initiative.

The plasma and genotype studies appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The environmental conditions study was published in the Journal of AOAC International.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.