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Eur J Pharmacol. 2019 Jun 29;859:172513. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.172513. [Epub ahead of print]

Combinations of the antioxidants sulforaphane or curcumin and the conventional antineoplastics cisplatin or doxorubicin as prospects for anticancer chemotherapy.

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Centro de Investigaciones en Enfermedades Tropicales (CINTROP), Departamento de Ciencias Básicas, Escuela de Medicina, Facultad de Salud, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga, 68002, Colombia. Electronic address:


Drugs used in clinical oncology have narrow therapeutic indices with adverse toxicity often involving oxidative damage. Chemoresistance to these conventional antineoplastics is usually mediated by oxidative stress-upregulated pathways such as those of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α). Accordingly, the use of antioxidants in combinational approaches has begun to be considered for fighting cancer because of both the protective role against adverse effects and the ability to sensitize chemoresistant cancer cells. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) has been identified as a mediator of the cytoprotection but it is not regularly associated with tumor chemosensitization. However, some Nrf2 inducers could be exerting cytoprotective and chemosensitizing roles through a simple integrated mechanism in which the cellular level of reactive oxygen species is controlled, thus inhibiting the oxidative damage in non-target tissues and the tumor chemoresistance mediated by NF-κB or HIF-1α. As examples to show the general idea of this antioxidant combination chemotherapy, this review explores the preclinical information available for four combinations, each composed by a paradigmatic oncological drug (cisplatin or doxorubicin) and a recognized antioxidant (sulforaphane or curcumin). The issues for translating these outcomes to clinical trials are briefly discussed.


Antineoplastic; Antioxidant; Cisplatin; Curcumin; Doxorubicin; Sulforaphane

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