Formononetin, an isoflavone, is extracted from various medicinal plants and herbs, including the red clover (Trifolium pratense) and Chinese medicinal plant Astragalus membranaceus. Formononetin's antioxidant and neuroprotective effects underscore its therapeutic use against Alzheimer's disease. Formononetin has been under intense investigation for the past decade as strong evidence on promoting apoptosis and against proliferation suggests for its use as an anticancer agent against diverse cancers. These anticancer properties are observed in multiple cancer cell models, including breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer. Formononetin also attenuates metastasis and tumor growth in various in vivo studies. The beneficial effects exuded by formononetin can be attributed to its antiproliferative and cell cycle arrest inducing properties. Formononetin regulates various transcription factors and growth-factor-mediated oncogenic pathways, consequently alleviating the possible causes of chronic inflammation that are linked to cancer survival of neoplastic cells and their resistance against chemotherapy. As such, this review summarizes and critically analyzes current evidence on the potential of formononetin for therapy of various malignancies with special emphasis on molecular targets.
Keywords: angiogenesis; cancer; cell signaling; formononetin; preclinical models.