Advances in the Treatment of Ovarian Cancer: A Potential Role of Antiinflammatory Phytochemicals

Discov Med. 2012 Jan;13(68):7-17.

Abstract

Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the leading cause of death among gynecological malignancies worldwide. The five-year survival rates for stage IIIC and IV patients are 29% and 13%, respectively. Type-2 EOC cells have been found to be associated with this late stage disease. In contrast, women diagnosed in stage 1 disease, which mostly exhibits type-1 cells, have a high 5-year survival rate (90%). Recent progress in understanding the pathogenesis of EOC and inflammatory signaling pathways revealed that type-2 cells frequently express a deleted or mutated TP53 (60-80%), or aberrations in BRCA1 (30-60%) and BRCA2 (15-30%). The deletion or mutation of TP53 results in a dysregulated inflammatory signal network and contributes to an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Thus, to be effective, EOC therapy may be necessary to cover two areas: (1) direct cytotoxic killing of cancer cells; (2) reversion of the immunosuppressive microenvironment. Presently the first strategy is advancing rapidly while the second strategy remains behind. Isolation and characterization of cancer stem cells (CSCs) have helped to confirm the dynamic role of the tumor microenvironment in promoting cancer metastasis and recurrence. Based on widely published in vitro and mouse-model data, some anti-inflammatory phytochemicals appear to exhibit activity in modulating the tumor microenvironment. Specifically, apiegenin, baicalein, curcumin, EGCG, genistein, luteolin, oridonin, quercetin, and wogonin repress NF-kappaB (NF-κB, a proinflammatory transcription factor) and inhibit proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-6. Additionally, most of these phytochemicals have been shown to stabilize p53 protein, sensitize TRAIL (TNF receptor apoptosis-inducing ligand) induced apoptosis, and prevent or delay chemotherapy-resistance. Recent studies further indicate that apigenin, genistein, kaempferol, luteolin, and quercetin potently inhibit VEGF production and suppress ovarian cancer cell metastasis in vitro. Lastly, oridonin and wogonin were suggested to suppress ovarian CSCs as is reflected by down-regulation of the surface marker EpCAM. Unlike NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), well documented clinical data for phyto-active compounds are lacking. In order to evaluate objectively the potential benefit of these compounds in the treatment of ovarian cancer, strategically designed, large scale studies are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / drug therapy*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / antagonists & inhibitors

Substances

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A