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Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2000;17(1-4):311-49.

Cancer chemoprevention and apoptosis mechanisms induced by dietary polyphenolics.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This review summarises current knowledge on the various molecular chemopreventive or therapeutic mechanisms that may be involved when the administration of flavonoids or polyphenols prevented chemical carcinogenesis in animal models. These mechanisms can be subdivided into the following: 1) the molecular mechanisms involved in preventing carcinogen metabolic activation, 2) the molecular mechanisms for preventing tumour cell proliferation by inactivation or downregulation of prooxidant enzymes or signal transduction enzymes, 3) the molecular cell death mechanisms for the induction of tumour cell death (apoptosis) and the molecular mechanisms for the inhibition of isolated mitochondria functions. Many of the flavonoids and polyphenols found in diets, supplements or herbal medicine were also ranked using "accelerated cytotoxic mechanism screening" by a combinatorial approach utilising isolated rat hepatocytes. A strong correlation of an early collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential and cell death was found for most of the cytotoxic polyphenols but did not occur with non-toxic polyphenols. This screening could prove useful for eliminating polyphenols that have the potential for adverse health effects and for selecting safe and effective polyphenolic candidates for further development as supplements for preventing cancer or cardiovascular disease. Safety concerns of flavonoid/polyphenol supplements are also reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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