Investigating the Role of Epigenetics on the Anti-Cancer Activity of Noni (Morinda citrifolia)

Date
2014-09-26
Authors
Avilez, Kekaihalai
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Inherent in the traditional native Hawaiian concept of health is the understanding that environmental factors, including nutrition and diet, trans-generationally impact health outcomes. Epigenetic mechanisms now explain the molecular links between these environmental factors and health outcomes. Noni (Morinda citrifolia) has been employed for centuries by Kahuna lāʻau lapaʻau (medical practioners) to address many health ailments, including cancer. Modern studies abound validate the efficacy of noni for cancer treatment. Consistent with the traditional concept, we hypothesize that epigenetic mechanisms underlie the well-established anti-cancer effects of noni. Thus, we propose to examine the global and genome-wide epigenomic patterns of the colon cancer cell line HCT-116 before and after treatment with noni. Using Western blotting techniques, we will measure global levels of DNA methylation and histone modifications in treated and untreated cells. We will next employ state of the art technologies to identify, characterize, and integrate genome-wide DNA methylation and gene expression alterations in HCT- 116 cells in response to noni. We anticipate that epigenetically labile sites, in particular hyper-methylated tumor-suppressor gene promoters, will be responsive to noni treatment, which could lead to changes in gene expression. We will confirm cases of noni-induced DNA demethylation by comparing these data with that of HCT-116 cells genetically deficient for DNA methylation. Results from this study will establish, for the first time, a link between the anti-tumor effects of noni and epigenetic gene regulation, demonstrating that the traditional native Hawaiian concept of health included a mechanistic rationale for the role of the environment on physical health.
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iv, 32 pages
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