Dietary Sources of Natural Inducers of Cell Death: Considerations for Cancer Therapy and Prevention

  • Yvonne Chukwumah


Programmed cell death (PCD), sometimes referred to as apoptosis, is a natural biological process that plays a key role in tissue maintenance and cellular homeostasis. Although PCD occurs as a normal biological process in multicellular organisms, it is highly regulated by a series of genetic elements which incidentally have also been implicated in carcinogenesis in humans. Thus any anomaly in the expression of the gene will result in the disruption of the highly organized physiological events of PCD resulting in the continuous proliferation and growth of cells, a condition known as carcinogenesis. In fact, most cancer cells exhibit characteristic mutations in the P53 gene.

While the events of PCD are normally triggered by physiological stimuli, it has been shown that they can also be induced by exogenous factors such as bioactive compounds of plant origin. Some natural plant products have been shown to have anti-tumorigenic properties through the induction of apoptosis. Fruits, vegetables and condiments such as herbs and spices are naturally rich in bioactive compounds which have been shown to exhibit some cytotoxic effect mediated through apoptosis on various tumor cells.

In this chapter, we review pertinent information on dietary sources of natural inducers of cell death and important considerations for cancer prevention and therapy. While studies on their chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic potentials are ongoing, there is a need to consider the effect of processing, gastrointestinal digestion and metabolism on the structural modification of these compounds as well as their bioavailability given their dependency on structure for functionality.


Bioactive Compound Dietary Source Grape Seed Unstirred Water Layer World Cancer Research Fund 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne Chukwumah
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food and Animal SciencesAlabama A&M UniversityNormalUSA

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