Activating p53 tumor suppressor gene Protects Pancreatic Cancer Cells through Apoptosis.


The p53 gene is a tumor suppressor gene and its activation stops the formation of tumors.

The p53 tumor suppressor gene senses DNA damage and when it does it levels rise and initiate protective measures. Cell division is then halted until the production of p53 proteins can repair the damage.  If the damage is too severe, the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is initiated, which then directs the cell to commit suicide.  Apoptosis then permanently removes the damages cell.

In 1979, the p53 gene was discovered.  1  Since then it has been studied extensively and called the:

  • Guardian of the genome2
  • Death star3
  • Good and bad cop4
  • An acrobat in tumorigenesis”  5

In 1993 it was designated the title of “molecule of the year” attributed by the Journal Science6  These titles demonstrate its importance in preventing genome mutation.

More specifically, p53 displays its anti-cancer role through the following mechanisms:

  • When DNA sustains damaged, p53 is activated to repair   
  • After DNA damage, p53 arrests growth in order to give time to repair the cell or kill the cell through apoptosis
  • If DNA is irreparable, it initiates apoptosis or programmed cell death.

p53 pathways

If the p53 gene is inactive, or turned off, the damaged DNA is able to proliferate and form cancerous cells due to the fact that apoptosis is shut down.   7

The important point to note here is that you want to keep the p53 gene in an active state. 

There are certain nutritional substances that are known to activate and restore the function of the p53 tumor suppressor gene.  The studies associated with the substances are specifically identified with pancreatic cancer:

  • Apigenin   8 
  • Curcumin   9 
  • EGCG (Green Tea)  10 
  • Gamma-tocotrienol  11  
  • Genistein  12 
  • Grape seed extract (proanthocyanidins)  13   
  • Indole-3-carbinol (I3C)  (cruciferous vegetables)   14
  • Omega-3 fatty acids  15   
  • Resveratrol   16  
  • Thymoquinone (from Nigella sativa, Black cumin seeds)  17  




EGCG (Green Tea) 



Grape seed extract

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) 

Omega-3 fatty acids    


Thymoquinone (Black Cumin Seed Oil)

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