University of Oulu

Mauramo, M.; Onali, T.; Wahbi, W.; Vasara, J.; Lampinen, A.; Mauramo, E.; Kivimäki, A.; Martens, S.; Häggman, H.; Sutinen, M.; Salo, T. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) Powder Has Anticarcinogenic Effects on Oral Carcinoma In Vitro and In Vivo. Antioxidants 2021, 10, 1319.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) powder has anticarcinogenic effects on oral carcinoma in vitro and in vivo

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Author: Mauramo, Matti1,2; Onali, Tuulia1,3; Wahbi, Wafa1;
Organizations: 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Pathology, Haartman Institute and HUSLAB, Helsinki University Central Hospital, 00260 Helsinki, Finland
3Medical Nutrition Physiology, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
5Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
6Fondazione Edmund Mach, Research and Innovation Center, TN, 380105 San Michele’all Adige, Italy
7Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, Medical Research Center Oulu, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-27


Previous studies indicate that bilberry with high amounts of phenolic compounds can inhibit carcinogenic processes of colorectal cancer in vitro and in vivo. However, no studies have focused on the effects of bilberry on oral cancer. In this study, we aimed to examine the effects of bilberry powder on oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells using both in vitro and in vivo assays. The effects of 0, 1, 10, and 25 mg/mL of whole bilberry powder on the viability, proliferation, migration, and invasion of OSCC (HSC-3) cells were examined and compared with 0.01 mg/mL of cetuximab. Two oral keratinocyte cell lines served as controls. Tumor area was analyzed in zebrafish microinjected with HSC-3 cells and treated with 2.5, 10, or 25 µg/mL of bilberry powder. Metastases in the head or tail areas were counted. Bilberry powder inhibited the viability, proliferation, migration, and invasion of HSC-3 cells (p < 0.05), which was more pronounced with higher concentrations. Cetuximab had no effect on HSC-3 cell migration or invasion. Compared to controls, the tumor area in zebrafish treated with bilberry powder (10 and 25 µg/mL) was reduced significantly (p = 0.038 and p = 0.021, respectively), but the number of fish with metastases did not differ between groups. Based on our in vitro and in vivo experiments, we conclude that whole bilberry powder has anti-tumor effects on OSCC cells.

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Series: Antioxidants
ISSN: 2076-3921
ISSN-E: 2076-3921
ISSN-L: 2076-3921
Volume: 10
Issue: 8
Article number: 1319
DOI: 10.3390/antiox10081319
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Funding: This work was supported with grants by the Sigrid Jusélius foundation and Finnish Cancer Society. Open access funding provided by University of Helsinki.
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (