Nrf2 is a potential therapeutic target in radioresistance in human cancer

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2013 Dec;88(3):706-15. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2013.09.001. Epub 2013 Sep 29.


Radiation therapy can effectively kill cancer cells through ROS generation. Cancer cells with upregulated antioxidant systems can develop high radioresistance ability, and the transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a key regulator of the antioxidant system. Currently, there are numerous data indicating the important role of Nrf2 in cancer radioresistance. In this review, we summarize the aberrant regulation of Nrf2 in radioresistant cells and discuss the effects and underlying mechanism of Nrf2 in promoting radioresistance. These findings suggest that Nrf2 might be a potential therapeutic target in cancer radiation resistance or a promising radioprotector for normal organs during radiation therapy in the future.

Keywords: Antioxidant; Nrf2; ROS; Radioresistance; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics*
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Radiation Tolerance / genetics*
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antioxidants
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species