Dietary Phytochemicals as a Potential Source for Targeting Cancer Stem Cells

Cancer Invest. 2021 Apr;39(4):349-368. doi: 10.1080/07357907.2021.1894569. Epub 2021 Mar 10.


The tumor microenvironment is composed of various types of cells that lead to tumor heterogeneity. In the middle of these populations, cancer stem cells play a vital role in the initiation and progression of cancer cells and are capable of self-renewal and differentiation processes. These cancer stem cells are resistant to conventional therapy such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. To eradicate the cancer stem cells in the tumor environment, various natural product has been found in recent years. In this review, we have selected some of the natural products based on anticancer potential including targeting cancer cells and cancer stem cells. Further, this review explains the molecular mechanism of action of these natural products in various cancer stem cells. Therefore, targeting a multi-drug resistant cancer stem cell by natural products is a novel method to reduce drug resistance and adverse effect during conventional therapy.

Keywords: Natural products; cancer; cancer stem cells; molecular pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Phytochemicals / adverse effects
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Phytochemicals