Carnosol, a constituent of zyflamend, inhibits aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated activation of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 transcription and mutagenesis

Arash Mohebati, Joseph B. Guttenplan, Amit Kochhar, Zhong Lin Zhao, Wieslawa Kosinska, Kotha Subbaramaiah, Andrew J. Dannenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated member of the basic helix-loop-helix family of transcription factors, plays a significant role in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-induced carcinogenesis. In the upper aerodigestive tract of humans, tobacco smoke, a source of PAHs, activates the AhR leading to increased expression of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, which encode proteins that convert PAHs to genotoxic metabolites. Inhibitors of Hsp90 ATPase cause a rapid decrease in levels of AhR, an Hsp90 client protein, and thereby block PAH-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. The main objective of this study was to determine whether Zyflamend, a polyherbal preparation, suppressed PAH-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 and inhibited DNA adduct formation and mutagenesis. We also investigated whether carnosol, one of multiplephenolic antioxidants in Zyflamend, had similar inhibitory effects. Treatment of cell lines derived from oral leukoplakia (MSK-Leuk1) and skin (HaCaT) with benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), a prototypic PAH, induced CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 transcription, resulting in enhanced levels of message and protein. Both Zyflamend and carnosol suppressed these effects of B[a]P. Notably, both Zyflamend and carnosol inhibited Hsp90 ATPase activity and caused a rapid reduction in AhR levels. The formation of B[a]P induced DNA adducts and mutagenesis was also inhibited by Zyflamend and carnosol. Collectively, these results show that Zyflamend and carnosol inhibit Hsp90 ATPase leading to reduced levels of AhR, suppression of B[a]P-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, and inhibition of mutagenesis. Carnosol-mediated inhibition of Hsp90 ATPase activity can help explain the chemopreventive activity of herbs such as Rosemary, which contain this phenolic antioxidant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-602
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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