Background: The impact of the ubiquitous dietary phenolic compound p-coumaric acid
on human breast cancer cells was assessed, through a multidisciplinary approach: Combined biological
assays for cytotoxicity evaluation and biochemical profiling by Raman microspectroscopic
analysis in cells.
Methods: Para-coumaric acid was shown to exert in vitro chemoprotective and antitumor activities,
depending on the concentration and cell line probed: a significant anti-invasive ability was detected
for the triple-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, while a high pro-oxidant effect was found for the estrogen-
dependent MCF-7 cells. A striking cell selectivity was obtained, with a more noticeable outcome
on the triple-negative MDA-MB-231 cell line.
Results: The main impact on the cellular biochemical profile was verified to be on proteins and
lipids, thus justifying the compound´s anti-invasive effect and chemoprotective ability.
Conclusion: p-Coumaric acid was thus shown to be a promising chemoprotective/chemotherapeutic
agent, particularly against the low prognosis triple-negative human breast adenocarcinoma.