MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in many biological processes, cancer, and other diseases. In addition, miRNAs are dysregulated following exposure to toxic and genotoxic agents. Here we review studies evaluating modulation of miRNAs by dietary and pharmacological agents, which could potentially be exploited for inhibition of mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. This review covers natural agents, including vitamins, oligoelements, polyphenols, isoflavones, indoles, isothiocyanates, phospholipids, saponins, anthraquinones and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and synthetic agents, including thiols, nuclear receptor agonists, histone deacetylase inhibitors, antiinflammatory drugs, and selective estrogen receptor modulators. As many as 145 miRNAs, involved in the control of a variety of carcinogenesis mechanisms, were modulated by these agents, either individually or in combination. Most studies used cancer cells in vitro with the goal of modifying their phenotype by changing miRNA expression profiles. In vivo studies evaluated regulation of miRNAs by chemopreventive agents in organs of mice and rats, either untreated or exposed to carcinogens, with the objective of evaluating their safety and efficacy. The tissue specificity of miRNAs could be exploited for the chemoprevention of site-specific cancers, and the study of polymorphic miRNAs is expected to predict the individual response to chemopreventive agents as a tool for developing new prevention strategies.
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