Potential role of naturally derived polyphenols and their nanotechnology delivery in cancer

Mol Biotechnol. 2013 Sep;55(1):78-86. doi: 10.1007/s12033-012-9623-7.


Polyphenols are natural compounds found in plants, fruits, chocolate, and beverages such as tea and wine. To date, the majority of polyphenol research shows them to have anticancer activity in cell lines and animal models. Some human clinical trials also indicate possible anticancer benefits are associated with polyphenols. A problem with polyphenols is their short half-life and low bioavailability; thus the use of nanoparticles to enhance their delivery is a new research field. A Pubmed search was conducted to find in vitro, in vivo, and human clinical trials done within the past 10 years involving the use of polyphenols against different cancer types, and for studies done within the past 5 years on the use of nanoparticles to enhance polyphenol delivery. Based on the studies found, it is observed that polyphenols may be a potential alternative or additive therapy against cancer, and the use of nanoparticles to enhance their delivery to tumors is a promising approach. However, further human clinical trials are necessary to better understand the use of polyphenols as well as their nanoparticle-mediated delivery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Biological Availability
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Compounding
  • Flavonoids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Polyphenols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Drug Carriers
  • Flavonoids
  • Polyphenols