• Bromelain;
  • Cell proliferation;
  • Chemoprevention;
  • Colon cancer;
  • Protease


Colorectal cancer is an important health problem across the world. Here, we investigated the possible antiproliferative/proapoptotic effects of bromelain (from the pineapple stem Ananas comosus L., family Bromeliaceae) in a human colorectal carcinoma cell line and its potential chemopreventive effect in a murine model of colon cancer.

Methods and results

Proliferation and apoptosis were evaluated in human colon adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cells by the 3H-thymidine incorporation assay and caspase 3/7 activity measurement, respectively. Extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) and Akt expression were evaluated by Western blot analysis, reactive oxygen species production by a fluorimetric method. In vivo, bromelain was evaluated using the azoxymethane murine model of colon carcinogenesis. Bromelain reduced cell proliferation and promoted apoptosis in Caco-2 cells. The effect of bromelain was associated to downregulation of pERK1/2/total, ERK, and pAkt/Akt expression as well as to reduction of reactive oxygen species production. In vivo, bromelain reduced the development of aberrant crypt foci, polyps, and tumors induced by azoxymethane.


Bromelain exerts antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in colorectal carcinoma cells and chemopreventive actions in colon carcinogenesis in vivo. Bromelain-containing foods and/or bromelain itself may represent good candidates for colorectal cancer chemoprevention.