Dietary Phytochemicals as Epigenetic Modulators in Cancer

  • Vijay S. Thakur
  • Sanjay Gupta


Epigenetics refers to heritable changes in gene expression that are not attributable to changes in DNA sequence, but rather depend on alterations in DNA methylation, chromatin structure or microRNA profiles. Although epigenetic changes are heritable in somatic cells, these modifications are potentially reversible and make them attractive and promising targets in the prevention and therapy of cancer. Dietary phytochemicals, especially present in fruits, vegetables and beverages have recently shown considerable promise in affecting gene expression via reversible epigenetic mechanisms. These agents include tea polyphenols, genistein, curcumin, sulforaphane, isothiocynates, lycopene, resveratrol, quercetin, indol-3-carbinol, ellagitannin and organosulfur compounds. This chapter discusses the impact of environment, lifestyle and dietary factors on epigenetic alterations and presents considerable evidence that modulation of epigenetic targets by dietary phytochemicals is associated with the prevention and therapy of cancer. This chapter also emphasizes that an increased understanding of the anticancer effects of dietary phytochemicals offer new epigenetic targets and promising agents with more opportunities for prevention, and perhaps therapy of cancer.


HDAC Activity Organosulfur Compound Resveratrol Treatment hTERT Promoter EGCG Treatment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog 1


allyl mercaptan


Activator Protein-1


androgen receptor


BCL2-associated X protein


B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2


B-cell lymphoma-extra large


B-cell-specific Moloney murine leukemia virus integration site 1


breast cancer 1 early onset


CREB-binding protein


cyclin D2


cell division cycle 25 homolog A


cyclin-dependent kinase


caudal-related homeodomain protein 2


v-kit Hardy-Zuckerman 4 feline sarcoma viral oncogene homolog






cylindromatosis (turban tumor syndrome)


diallyl disulfide


diallyl sulfide


diallyl trisulfide


dihydrofolate reductase




DNA methyltransferase


DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 3-like


E2F transcription factor










epidermal growth factor receptor


estrogen receptor


estrogen receptor beta


human epidermal growth factor receptor 2


estrogen receptor alpha


enhancer of zeste homolog 2


forkhead box protein O3


SAGA complex histone acetyltransferase catalytic subunit Gcn5


glutathione-S-transferase pi 1


histone acetyl transferases


histone deacetylase


human epidermal growth factor receptor 2

HIF-1 α

hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha subunit


histone lysine methyltransferases


human mutL homolog 1

HOX family proteins

homeobox family proteins


heat shock protein 90


human telomerase reverse transcriptase


TNF-induced interferon-gamma-inducible protein 10




lymphoid enhancer factor


loss of imprinting


methylated DNA binding domain proteins


induced myeloid leukemia cell differentiation protein Mcl-1


minichromosome maintenance gene


methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase


macrophage inflammatory protein 2




matrix metalloproteinase


metastasis associated 1 family member 2


nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells


notch homolog 1 translocation-associated (Drosophila)


nucleosome remodeling complex


organosulfur compounds


cyclin-dependent kinase 4 inhibitor A


cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A


tumor protein 53


Poly ADP-ribose polymerase


K(lysine) acetyltransferase 2B


polycomb group proteins


programmed cell death 4


phenethyl isothiocyanate


arginine methyltransferases


phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate synthetase 1


phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10


retinoic acid receptor beta 2




rat sarcoma transforming oncogene


RAS association domain family 1A


reversion-inducing cysteine-rich protein with Kazal motifs repressive complex 3

RXR alpha

retinoid X receptor alpha




S-adenosyl methionine




sirtuin (silent mating type information regulation 2 homolog) 1


solute carrier family 16 member 1


sorting nexin-19


transcription Factor Sp1


multiple T-cell factor


transforming growth factor beta receptor II


transforming growth factor beta


tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2


phosphotyrosine picked threonine-protein kinase


vascular endothelial cell growth factor


zinc finger and BTB domain containing 10


zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1


zinc finger protein 513



The original work from author’s laboratory outlined in this review was supported by United States Public Health Service Grants RO1CA108512, RO1CA115491 and RO1AT002709. We apologize to those investigators whose original work could not be cited owing to the space limitations.

Conflict of interest : The authors have no competing interest

Dr Sanjay Gupta is Carter Kissell Associate Professor & Research Director in the Department of Urology and holds secondary appointment in the Department of Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University and Division of General Medical Sciences at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Dr Vijay S Thakur is Senior Research Associate in the Department of Urology at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urology & NutritionCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.University Hospitals Case Medical CenterClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Case Comprehensive Cancer CenterClevelandUSA

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