Dietary Intervention by Phytochemicals and Their Role in Modulating Coding and Non-Coding Genes in Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jun 1;18(6):1178. doi: 10.3390/ijms18061178.


Phytochemicals are natural compounds synthesized as secondary metabolites in plants, representing an important source of molecules with a wide range of therapeutic applications. These natural agents are important regulators of key pathological processes/conditions, including cancer, as they are able to modulate the expression of coding and non-coding transcripts with an oncogenic or tumour suppressor role. These natural agents are currently exploited for the development of therapeutic strategies alone or in tandem with conventional treatments for cancer. The aim of this paper is to review the recent studies regarding the role of these natural phytochemicals in different processes related to cancer inhibition, including apoptosis activation, angiogenesis and metastasis suppression. From the large palette of phytochemicals we selected epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), genistein, morin and kaempferol, due to their increased activity in modulating multiple coding and non-coding genes, targeting the main hallmarks of cancer.

Keywords: apoptosis; cancer; coding and non-coding RNA; miRNAs; phytochemicals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use
  • Polyphenols / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Messenger*
  • RNA, Untranslated*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytochemicals
  • Polyphenols
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Untranslated