Dietary Sources of Natural Inducers of Cell Death: Considerations for Cancer Therapy and Prevention
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.
KeywordsBioactive Compound Dietary Source Grape Seed Unstirred Water Layer World Cancer Research Fund
- Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Simonetti RG, Gluud C (2008) Antioxidant supplements for preventing gastrointestinal cancers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (Online) CD004183Google Scholar
- Harborne JB, Baxter H (1999) The handbook of natural flavonoids, vols 1 and 2. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
- Rice-Evans CA, Miller NJ (1996) Antioxidant activities of flavonoids as bioactive components of food. Biochem Soc 24(3):790–795Google Scholar
- World Cancer Research Fund, The American Institute for Cancer Research (1997) Food, nutrition and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. World Cancer Research Fund, The American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar