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Open Access Review

Fermented wheat germ extract - nutritional supplement or anticancer drug?

Thomas Mueller and Wieland Voigt*

Author affiliations

University of Halle, Department of Internal Medicine, Oncology/Hematology and Hemostaseology, Ernst-Grube Str. 40, 06120 Halle/Saale, Germany

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:89  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-89

Published: 5 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Fermented wheat germ extract (FWGE) is a multisubstance composition and, besides others, contains 2-methoxy benzoquinone and 2, 6-dimethoxy benzoquinone which are likely to exert some of its biological effects. FWGE interferes with anaerobic glycolysis, pentose cycle and ribonucleotide reductase. It has significant antiproliferative effects and kills tumor cells by the induction of apoptosis via the caspase-poly [ADP-ribose] polymerase-pathway. FWGE interacts synergistically with a variety of different anticancer drugs and exerted antimetastatic properties in mouse models. In addition, FWGE modulates immune response by downregulation of MHC-I complex and the induction of TNF-α and various interleukins. Data in the F-344 rat model provide evidence for a colon cancer preventing effect of FWGE.

Clinical data from a randomized phase II trial in melanoma patients indicate a significant benefit for patients treated with dacarbazine in combination with FWGE in terms of progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Similarly, data from studies in colorectal cancer suggested a benefit of FWGE treatment. Besides extension of OS and PFS, FWGE improved the quality of life in several studies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, available data so far, justify the use of FWGE as a non-prescription medical nutriment for cancer patients. Further randomized, controlled and large scale clinical studies are mandatory, to further clarify the value of FWGE as a drug component of future chemotherapy regimens.

Keywords:
Fermented wheat germ extract; in vitro effects; in vivo effects; clinical activity