Saffron crudes and compounds restrict MACC1-dependent cell proliferation and migration of colorectal cancer cells


  • N. Güllü
  • D. Kobelt
  • H. Brim
  • S. Rahman
  • L. Timm
  • J. Smith
  • A. Soleimani
  • S. Di Marco
  • S. Bisti
  • H. Ashktorab
  • U. Stein


  • Cells


  • Cells 9 (8): 1829


  • The high mortality rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients is directly associated with metastatic dissemination. However, therapeutic options specifically for metastasis are still limited. We previously identified Metastasis-Associated in Colon Cancer 1 (MACC1) as a major causal metastasis-inducing gene. Numerous studies confirmed its value as a biomarker for metastasis risk. We investigated the inhibitory impact of saffron on MACC1-induced cancer cell growth and motility. Saffron crudes restricted the proliferation and migration of MACC1-expressing CRC cells in a concentration- and MACC1-dependent manner. Saffron delays cell cycle progression at G2/M-phase and does not induce apoptosis. Rescue experiments showed that these effects are reversible. Analysis of active saffron compounds elucidated that crocin was the main compound that reproduced total saffron crudes effects. We showed the interaction of MACC1 with the cancer stem cell (CSC) marker DCLK1, which contributes to metastasis formation in different tumor entities. Saffron extracts reduced DCLK1 with crocin being responsible for this reduction. Saffron’s anti-proliferative and anti-migratory effects in MACC1-expressing cells are mediated by crocin through DCLK1 down-regulation. This research is the first identification of saffron-based compounds restricting cancer cell proliferation and motility progression via the novel target MACC1.