Topical treatment of cutaneous neoplasms represents a recognized strategy for both prevention and treatment of skin cancers. Such an approach may be important for malignant cutaneous melanoma, one of the most aggressive human cancers with high potential for distant metastasis. Based on these premises, much attention has been focused on the study of oleocanthal (Figure 1), an olive oil phenolic component responsible for the peculiar pungent and irritant sensation associated with some olive oils. It is well proven that oleocanthal is able to inhibit cyclooxygenase enzymes, thus exerting an important anti-inflammatory activity, and very recent studies have demonstrated its potential for prevention of different types of cancer. Interestingly, it has been recently demonstrated that selective activity of oleochantal for cancer versus normal cells is partially due to its ability to induce lysosomal membrane permeabilization leading to apoptosis and/or necrosis. The present study is aimed at investigating the selective in vitro anti- proliferative activity of oleocanthal against human malignant melanoma cells compared to human dermal fibroblasts. Since oleocanthal is not commercially available, it was obtained as pure standard by direct extraction and purification from virgin olive oil.
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