Molecular approaches toward targeted cancer prevention with some food plants and their products: inflammatory and other signal pathways

Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(2):194-205. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.864420. Epub 2013 Dec 30.


In recent years, there has been growing interest in cancer prevention by food plants and their products. Although several plant parts have potentials for chemoprevention and other therapeutic use, their molecular mechanisms of action are not always well understood. Extensive research has identified several molecular targets that can potentially be used for the prevention and/or treatment of cancer. In this review, we accumulate evidences of modulating abilities of some dietary plants and their products on several signaling pathways, including the inflammatory and apoptotic ones, which may be targeted for cancer therapy. We have mainly focused on several phytochemicals like resveratrol (red grapes and peanuts), allicin (garlic), lycopene (tomato), indole-3-carbinol (cruciferous vegetables), vitamin C (citrus fruits), [6]-gingerol (ginger), emodin (aloe), natural antioxidant mixture (spinach), beta carotenoids (carrots), sulphoraphane (mustard), ellagic acid (pomegranate), myrecitin (cranberry), carnosol (rosemary), vanillin (vanilla) and eugenol (cloves). They act through one or more signaling pathways like nuclear factor kappa B, cyclooxygenase-2, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, Akt, mitogen activated protein kinase/extracellular regulated kinase, Bcl-2, caspases, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, matrix metalloproteinase 2/9, and cyclin D1. Critical knowledge on these compounds and their signaling pathways may help in formulation of effective anticancer drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Chemoprevention
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / genetics
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Edible / chemistry*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / genetics
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • NF-kappa B
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases